Brandon Huber, a part-time Realtor and pastor in Missoula, Montana, does not belong in our industry. Plain and simple.
Over the past several days, Inman’s Marian McPherson has written about Huber. Huber, who is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Montana Association of Realtors and the Missoula Organization of Realtors, and is affiliated with Windermere Real Estate, pulled his congregation’s support of an area food assistance program because of that group’s promotion of Pride Week and LGBTQ+ rights.
A member of the public later filed an ethics complaint against Huber to the Missoula Organization of Realtors citing he violated the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics. As you know, Article 10 prohibits member discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other classes. It now also outlaws hate speech.
Huber has sued the Missoula Organization of Realtors to void the code of ethics. Here is what his lawyer said to the local news, “The realtors’ hate-speech rule is intended to purge Christians from the real-estate business. If you are a Christian who believes the way that tens of millions of American Christians do that homosexuality is wrong, there is simply no way that you can participate as a realtor, with the kind of hate-speech prohibition that exists.”
This is maddening. While you have the right to be a misogynist, racist and/or anti-LGBTQ+, you don’t have a right to simultaneously be a Realtor. The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance does not see this as a religious discussion. It’s also not a hate speech discussion. But it is — most definitely — a discrimination issue and likely one of harassment.
If Huber’s lawyer were a NAR member, his diatribe would certainly fall under hate speech, as would his supporter, Montana state senator Theresa Manzella who attended a rally for Huber and said, among other outlandish things, “My right to live a righteous lifestyle based on my sincerely held beliefs does not end where their choice to live a perverse lifestyle begins.”
But back to Huber and his act of discrimination.
If he has ever spoken to a congregant about real estate or someone knew he was in real estate or came to him with real estate questions, concerns or business needs because of his standing in the community, he is just like the rest of us. His life intertwines with his real estate business. And therefore, as a member of NAR, he clearly violated the code of ethics.
Consider these scenarios. If he pulled his church from the food bank because of its activities around Juneteenth, wouldn’t we call that discriminatory? What about Hispanic Heritage Month? Or Chinese New Year? Of course we would! So why isn’t his distaste for the LGBTQ+ community and Pride Month any different? It’s not!
The Missoula Organization of Realtors has committed an egregious error in postponing Huber’s ethics hearing until the lawsuit is addressed. Basically they have created a license to openly discriminate and violate the NAR Code of Ethics as long as the offender threatens or files a lawsuit. Why have rules if you won’t enforce them?
We strongly urge NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith, NAR CEO Bob Goldberg, the leadership of NAR and the Realtor community to engage with the Missoula Organization of Realtors to push the ethics hearing to the front burner.
There is no place in our industry for people like Huber, and we will continue to work to ensure that discriminatory behavior against our community — in any aspect of housing — is properly addressed.
Since the murder of George Floyd, our industry and the rest of the nation is making inroads to catch up on many years of neglect. The term DEI — diversity, equity and inclusion — is mentioned repeatedly. NAR and real estate entities around the nation are correctly spending time, money and energy into better understanding the needs of diverse employee groups and consumers — including LGBTQ+ people.
This is one of those moments where we need to see action. Once real engagement within the diverse sector starts, there is no going back. DEI efforts cannot be lip service. It’s time to step up and remove Huber from the Realtor ranks. Quickly.
His membership of the above mentioned organizations is not pre-ordained. Nor is the right to call himself a Realtor. He has violated the covenants we hold true. Action must be taken now.
The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is a 501(c)6 nonprofit dedicated to empowering the LGBTQ+ community on the path to homeownership through advocacy on behalf of the community on housing issues. The Alliance, founded in June 2020, is an all-inclusive organization that works to improve the professional lives of its members through a public-facing Alliance Referral Community. For more information visit realestatealliance.org.
Ryan Weyandt is the CEO of The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, a 501(c)6 nonprofit dedicated to empowering the LGBTQ+ community on the path to homeownership through advocacy on behalf of the community on housing issues. The Alliance, founded in June 2020, is an all-inclusive organization that works to improve the professional lives of its members through a public-facing Alliance Referral Community.