April 30, 2019

Wyden Introduces Bill to Protect LGBTQ Americans From Housing Discrimination

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and colleagues today introduced a bipartisan bill that would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the classes protected from discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to ensure equal housing opportunities for all Americans.

“It’s 2019 and Americans can still be denied housing based on who they love or how they identify. That alone is unconscionable. LGBTQ Americans deserve explicit and equal protection under the law, especially when it comes to something as essential as a roof over their head,” Wyden said. “The Fair and Equal Housing Act will protect everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, from the still present threat of housing discrimination.”

The Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019 prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, 21 states, the District of Columbia and more than 200 localities protect sexual orientation and gender identity in their housing discrimination statutes.

National data continues to show that same-sex couples “face higher barriers to access rental housing” and that there are higher levels of discrimination against same-sex couples of color, even in localities that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This data also demonstrates that same-sex applicants are much more likely to be denied a mortgage and pay higher fees than heterosexual couples.

A 2018 study of housing discrimination found that rental unit inquiries by LGBTQ couples were more likely to be ignored than couples not perceived to be LGBTQ. The study also suggests that stronger federal and state antidiscrimination laws are needed.

The Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019 is supported by the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, National Association of Realtors, National Housing Law Project, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Equality Virginia, and Human Rights Campaign.

In addition to Wyden, other co-sponsors of the bill are U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Angus King, I-Maine, Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. and Tina Smith, D-Minn.

Text of the legislation can be read in full here.