Clarification Sought for Discrimination Protections

February 10, 2012

A new measure is seeking clarification to the National Association of REALTORS’® Code of Ethics that would specifically extend discrimination protections to include gender identity.

NAR’s Board of Directors passed an amendment to the Code of Ethics in November 2010 prohibiting members from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Gender identification was not completely addressed in that Code change, says Eric Kodner, a NAR Diversity Committee member and REALTOR® with offices in the Twin Cities and Madeline Island, Wis.

HUD extended its discrimination protections to include gender identity and sexual orientation in a new rule announced Jan. 24. “We’re looking for the Professional Standards Committee to re-evaluate what we passed last year,” said Kodner. “When the Article 10 amendment was submitted, it was supposed to be all-encompassing. We’re really just bringing the NAR policy in line with the HUD policy. It’s more definitional clarification than a new addition to the Code of Ethics.”

Kodner, who is also currently serving as president of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), is championing the clarification, which was proposed during the NAR Diversity Committee meeting on Nov. 11, 2011, in Anaheim, Calif.

The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association’s Cultural Diversity in Housing Committee officially endorsed the effort to bring the Code of Ethics in line with HUD policy, as has the Council of Residential Specialists.

“This is something CRS should do for the benefit of our members and the consumer,” says Toni Sherman, director of business relations at CRS. “Amending the NAR Code of Ethics to align with HUD’s new policy that includes protections based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation is only taking Article 10 to a crystal-clear completion.”

Kodner says he is encouraged by the supportive response he has received on the proposed revision. “It’s an issue we clearly had to get in front of because there should be no exclusions,” he says.

“He is tireless in going after a goal that will benefit the members of NAGLREP, but more importantly, this will have far-reaching positive affects across the nation,” Sherman says. “Eric is the kind of member we want at [CRS] — someone who is bright, aware of current issues affecting the consumer and NAR members,  and enthusiastically following through until the job is done.”

The revision is expected to be discussed at the Diversity Committee at the Midyear Meetings in Washington, D.C., this spring.

- By Erica Christoffer, REALTOR® Magazine

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