Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation to outlaw discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered Americans in the housing and credit markets. The Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act would amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or source of income. It would also amend the Equal Opportunity Credit Act to prohibit LGBT discrimination in credit decisions. Rep. Jerrold Nadler is introducing the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
"It's hard to believe that in 2011, any law-abiding, tax-paying American who can pay the rent can't live somewhere just because of who they are," said Sen. Kerry. "Housing discrimination against LGBT Americans is wrong, but today in most states there isn't a thing you can do about it. This legislation would end discrimination that continues to hurt people."
"Despite a great deal of progress, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continue to experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives, including one of the most basic -- finding a home for themselves and their families," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We thank Senator Kerry for continuing his leadership toward full legal equality for LGBT Americans by introducing legislation, the first of its kind in the Senate, that would outlaw housing and credit discrimination."
"We applaud Senator Kerry and Representative Nadler for their efforts to bring the Fair Housing Act into the 21st Century. These much-needed changes to the Act reflect our nation's commitment to creating stronger, more diverse and inclusive neighborhoods," said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. "Housing discrimination is wrong and runs counter to the American spirit of opportunity. It's time we leave intolerance and bigotry in America's dark history of senseless exclusion and instead continue to march on the path to equality."
Last January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report recognizing that "there is evidence...that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families are being arbitrarily excluded from some housing opportunities in the private sector." Still today, prejudiced landlords are discriminating against LGBT and other innocent tenants -- and these tenants often have no recourse in states without LGBT protections.
Co-sponsoring Senator Kerry's bill are Senators Harkin, Murray, Gillibrand, Inouye, Whitehouse, Merkley, and Coons. In addition, the legislation has received endorsements from the following groups: Human Rights Campaign, National Fair Housing Alliance, NAACP, ACLU, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Family Equality Council, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The HOME Act would:
* Amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit housing discrimination and intimidation on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or source of income.
* Amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in access to credit.
* Outlaw housing discrimination both before and after a housing unit is acquired.
* Strengthen anti-discrimination protections for handicapped individuals and LGBT parents with custody of a child.
* Provide the Attorney General with appropriate pre-litigation investigative power to enforce the law.