Congressman's Support for Housing Discrimination Costs Him Realtors' Backing

Dana Rohrabacher

Dana Rohrabacher, a longtime ultraconservative congressman from Orange County, Calif., has lost the support of the National Association of Realtors by endorsing anti-LGBT discrimination in housing.

Meeting with members of the Orange County Association of Realtors last week, Rohrabacher said he opposed expanding the Fair Housing Act, which bans discrimination in property sales and rentals based on race, color, religion, or national origin, to include sexual orientation and gender identity, The Orange County Register reports.

“Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone [if] they don’t agree with their lifestyle,” Rohrabacher said at the meeting, according to Wayne Woodyard, a former president of the Orange County group.

Rohrabacher was once listed as a “Realtor Champion” and received campaign donations from the Realtors Political Action Committee, the national group’s campaign finance division, as recently as January. He was also a member of the organization’s “President’s Circle,” designating candidates recommended by the association for members’ financial support. But no more, the Register reports.

“After reviewing all new, relevant information, it was determined that Rep. Rohrabacher will no longer receive support from NAR’s President’s Circle,” the National Association of Realtors announced in a statement Thursday. “The association’s member Code of Ethics is far ahead of Congress on gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination. We certainly hope that Congress will … support the elimination of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Rohrabacher, a Republican, has served 15 terms in the U.S. House, is reliably right-wing on both social issues, like LGBT rights and abortion, and economic ones, although he did vote against Donald Trump’s tax cut.  Orange County, located between Los Angeles and San Diego, has a reputation as a conservative stronghold, but the area has been changing; Hillary Clinton carried Rohrabacher’s district, the 48th, in the 2016 presidential election.

LGBT group Equality California, which has endorsed Democrat Harley Rouda in Rohrabacher’s district, released a statement denouncing the congressman’s support of discrimination. “Californians decided years ago that we don't support housing discrimination — not based on race, not based on religion and not based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said executive director Rick Zbur. “ And while Dana Rohrabacher may think it's OK to discriminate against people because of who they are or whom they love, Orange County families don't. His full-throated endorsement of discrimination is just one more reason that Rohrabacher doesn't deserve to represent Orange County in Congress."

California's Fair Employment and Housing Act has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 2000 and on the basis of gender identity in 2004.

California’s primary election will be June 5. The state has a “top two” system, under which candidates from all parties face off in the primary and the top two vote recipients, regardless of party, advance to the general election. About a dozen candidates are running in the 48th district.

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