Bill to prevent LGBTQ housing discrimination stalls in Senate

Washington DC Bureau
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WASHINGTON — Some leading gay rights groups say their community needs more protection when it comes to finding safe places to live.

Now, many in Congress says it’s time to pass a law to keep LGBTQ citizens safe from housing discrimination.

“We find that a lot of the LGBT people struggle not only finding affordable housing, but housing where they can be themselves,” said Aaron Tax, Advocacy Director for SAGE, a lobbying group that advocates for older LGBTQ adults. His organization, along with others, recently spoke to lawmakers.

“In a study conducted by the Equal Rights Center in 2014, we saw that nearly half, 48%, of same-sex individuals received differential treatment when looking for housing targeting older people,” Tax said.

“As we’ll hear from witnesses today there are indications that discrimination based off gender identity and sexual orientation may be occurring,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said.

Some say part of the problem might be the Federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, which requires home buyers to list their genders. “The presence of gender information on mortgage applications may be contributing to gender discrimination in the first place,” McHenry said.

Others say recent court rulings aren’t helping, permitting discrimination against LGBTQ citizens and even those looking for emergency housing or shelters.

“In light of the Hobby Lobby decision, to essentially legally allow discrimination as long as we wrap it up in some kind of a religious theory,” Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) said.

Tax points to one solution, called the Equality Act. “This is a comprehensive non-discrimination bill that would protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said.

It’s passed the House but has now stalled in the Senate.

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