A group of gay and lesbian real estate agents are complaining about the recent comments of a southern Californian congressman.
The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals sent a letter earlier this week to the National Association of Realtors asking them to pull support for U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
Rohrabacher recently told a group of homeowners they reserve the right to refuse selling their homes to gays and lesbians, according to an article by Jeff Collins for the Orange County Register.
U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., reportedly made these comments on May 16th at a meeting in Washington, D.C., at an Orange County Association of Realtors delegation, according to the report.
“Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone [if] they don’t agree with their lifestyle,” Rohrabacher told the crowd, according to event attendee Wayne Woodyard, a former president of the Realtor organization, the Orange County Register reported.
“A person who owns their own home, they have a right to choose who they do business with,” Rohrabacher added. “We’ve drawn a line on racism. But I don’t think we should extend that line.”
This sentiment sparked controversy amongst Realtors, eventually prompting NAR to withdraw its recommendation that members send him campaign contributions.
“It was determined that Rep. Rohrabacher will no longer receive support from NAR’s President’s Circle,” an association statement said. “Rohrabacher’s stance is contrary to NAR’s code of ethics, which bans discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“He refused to support [HR 1447] and was adamant that every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone that they don’t agree with their ‘lifestyle,’” the letter stated. “We were all shocked and it’s sad that NAR has him on the plate for President’s Circle funding.”
The conversation surrounding whether or not businesses have the right to deny services based on personal bias is not new. Even this month, the owners of two Californian apartment complexes were ordered to pay a four-figure fine to settle discrimination charges against prospective tenants on the basis of their race or national origin.
The complaints were filed by the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County on the behalf of prospective renters. They were protected under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibits renting or dwelling discrimination based on race, color, disability, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.
Orange County Realtors met last week during NAR’s mid-year lobbying conference in Washington to prompt Rohrabacher to support H.R. 1447, which expands the Fair Housing Act and adds anti-discrimination protections based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the report.