The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) is calling on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to join the organization in supporting federal legislation that would amend existing civil rights laws — including the Fair Housing Act — to prohibit discrimination or segregation based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.

“[NAGLREP’s] goal is to increase housing opportunity,” said NAGLREP founder Jeff Berger, a Florida-based Realtor. “If the Equality Act is passed there would be more opportunity for LGBTQ individuals.”

Berger said discrimination against LGBTQ in the industry isn’t rampant, but it certainly exists. The real estate industry has generally been inclusive and benefited greatly from that attitude, according to Berger.

But nearly one-third of LGBTQ adults reported that they were at least somewhat worried about having to hide their LGBTQ identity in order to find access to suitable housing options, according to a 2018 survey from AARP.  

GLADD reported that 55 percent of the respondents to a 2018 survey said they experienced discrimination last year compared to 44 percent in 2016. Forty-four percent of NAGLREP members who responded to a 2017 survey believe their LGBTQ clients will experience the same or worse discrimination than in years past.

“We’ve seen everything across the board from people not wanting to show homes to same sex couples to real estate professionals not treating same sex couples fairly,” Berger said. “When they find out — on the phone for example — that they’re a couple, the attitude changes, and clients have been told the agent doesn’t want to work with them.”

The Equality Act was introduced and failed to make it out of committee in 2015 and was re-introduced and referred to committee in 2017. It hasn’t been introduced to the full Congress for a vote yet this year as the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin in the renting or selling of housing. The Fair Housing Act does not mention sexual orientation. Berger believes NAR’s support could go a long way toward commemorating the act by amending it to include the additional protections.  

“In this congress, its not likely to be introduced for a vote — that’s what we’ve been told from Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus,” Berger said. “But NAR has a great voice, and I think [its support] could possibly be a tipping point.”

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said the association is committed to action and policies that support sustainable, inclusive communities without discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin, in a statement to Inman.

“Realtors are proud to lead the way toward greater equality in housing opportunities; in 2016, NAR’s Board of Directors passed policy for the association to support or initiate legislative and regulatory efforts that advance equal housing opportunity on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said. “As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, we urge Congress to adopt legislation and fair housing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

A spokesperson for the organization noted that it added fair housing protections for LGBTQ individuals to its Code of Ethics back in 2013.

Article 10 of the Realtors Code of Ethics reads:

“Realtors shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Realtors shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

“Realtors, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

Email Patrick Kearns

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