Gay Equal Rights Affirmed

NAR's board votes to prohibit members from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

August 1, 2010

Eric Kodner’s Madeline Island Real Estate blog on ActiveRain is a lively mix of business and human interest stories.

But back in December 2007, Kodner, ABR, CRS, broker-owner of Madeline Island Realty in LaPointe, Wis., and Wayzata Lakes Realty LLC in Minnetonka, Minn., used his blog to post a serious call to action. In response to some debate the previous day on ActiveRain, Kodner called for an update to the Code of Ethics of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

That posting became a key part of the chain of events leading to a historic vote at this year’s REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. On May 15, the NAR board of directors voted to add language about sexual orientation to Article 10 of the Code of Ethics. For the change to take effect, the vote must be approved by NAR’s Delegate Body, which meets Nov. 8 at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

For Kodner, the ActiveRain blog post put him squarely in the middle of an issue that was already being debated in real estate circles around the country. He received an appointment to the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association’s Equal Opportunity Committee, and it was that committee that brought a proposal forward—first to NAR’s Cultural Diversity and Equal Opportunity Committee in November 2009 and then to NAR’s Professional Standards Committee in May.

The Professional Standards Committee, in turn, teed up the board’s recent action by voting unanimously in favor of the proposal. "It was time for the association to take a stand for tolerance," says committee chair Linda Page, GRI, SFR, a practitioner in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

If the Delegate Body passes the change, Article 10 will read:

  • REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional service to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.
  • REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.
  • REALTORS® in their real estate employment practices shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.

The board of directors’ vote puts NAR one step ahead of Congress, which is considering a change to the Fair Housing Act. The Fair and Inclusive Housing Rights Act of 2010 would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It would be the first change to the law since 1988, when handicap and familial status were added as protected classes.

"The entire process made me proud to be a REALTOR®," says Kodner, who’s been invited to travel to Washington to meet with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the bill’s cosponsor. "I’ve been so impressed with the way NAR has handled this issue."

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is director of content strategy for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor-in-chief of REALTOR® Magazine. In addition, she oversees the quarterly REALTOR® Association Executive magazine and manages a variety of e-communications for REALTORS® and REALTOR® association executives. She has been with the NAR for more 30 years, starting as an associate editor with Real Estate Today magazine, where she covered sales and finance topics.

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