NAR: It’s Time to Pass the Equality Act
February 25, 2021
The National Association of REALTORS® applauded the House on Thursday after lawmakers reintroduced and passed the Equality Act, a 2019 bill that would extend fair housing and other civil rights protections to LGBTQ Americans. The House first passed the measure nearly two years ago, but it stalled in the Senate. This time, the Equality Act is expected to move forward in the Senate, though support for its successful passage remains unclear. President Joe Biden has vowed to sign the law if it makes it to his desk.
The Equality Act, also known as H.R. 5, would amend the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, giving the LGBTQ community added protections in home sales, rentals, financing, insurance, and other housing-related transactions. It would also ban LGBTQ discrimination in the application of credit, employment, public education, public accommodations, federal funding, and the jury system.
“NAR applauds the House of Representatives for taking action to extend fair housing protections to LGBTQ Americans,” NAR President Charlie Oppler said in a statement. “As stewards of the right to own, use, and transfer private property, REALTORS®’ livelihoods depend on an open housing market, and discrimination of any kind limits our shared goals, undermines our values, and inhibits our ability to conduct business.”
NAR is among more than 600 organizations and 300 major companies that have voiced support for the Equality Act, including numerous real estate and mortgage firms. The association also has been a leader in anti-discrimination policy: NAR amended its Code of Ethics to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2011 and gender identity in 2013.
The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, an industry organization founded last June, is working with the Human Rights Campaign to help Alliance members lobby their senators to support the Equality Act, CEO Ryan Weyandt told REALTOR® Magazine in an email Thursday. “President Biden has made his support for the LGBTQ+ community abundantly clear,” he said. “We are getting closer and closer to the day when we have the same protections as everyone else—in all 50 states—with or without an executive order or modified interpretation of existing law. We are people, and being our authentic selves should not have any bearing on how we are treated or exclude us from protections that apply to all other minority classes.”
Jeff Berger, founder and president of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, acknowledged the hard-fought road to housing equality as he praised the House action. “Today’s passage by the House of the Equality Act is the first step in the right direction on a long-overdue path to housing equality,” Berger said in a statement Thursday emailed to REALTOR® Magazine. “Let’s hope the momentum brings this legislation through the Senate and to the president’s desk for his signature.”
Updated: April 20, 2021