WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage equality, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today introduced the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act of 2013, which would for the first time bar discrimination against LGBT Americans when selling or renting property.
“The pursuit of equality has always been a part of the American spirit, and owning a home has always been a part of the American dream. That is why ensuring fair housing is so important,” Brown said. “While we’ve made significant progress over the years, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community is still not protected against discriminatory practices that deny them housing or a fair price for housing. That is why I am introducing the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act which would ensure that a LGBT American has the same opportunity to purchase a home or property as any other American.”
In 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination in our housing markets. Over the years, additional groups, including the disabled, women, and people of various faiths, have been added to those protected under the law. But for nine million LGBT Americans, equality in housing is still not a reality. According to one study, 30 percent of same-sex couples faced discrimination when looking for housing. Forms of discrimination include being shown alternate, or not a comprehensive list of properties, to being charged different rates. Similarly, among transgender persons, nearly one in five had been denied housing because of his/her gender identity, and more than one in ten had been evicted.
The HOME Act of 2013 would:
- Amend the Fair Housing Act by adding sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, and source of income to personal characteristics that may not be used as considerations in the sale or rental of housing; real estate loans or appraisals; or membership in or access to brokers’ organizations or listing services;
- Amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to personal characteristics that may not be used to determine access to credit;
- Clarify that discrimination on the basis of perceived or actual race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, source of income, handicap, familial status, or national origin in any of these real estate transactions or professional organizations is prohibited.
Brown is a long-time supporter of equal rights for the LGBT community. He is one of just five sitting senators who voted against the controversial Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 during his service as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned DOMA yesterday, it prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages and denied LGBT couples many of the federal benefits and protections that other married couples enjoy.
In December 2010, Brown was the first U.S. Senator to deliver an “It Gets Better” address from the Senate floor. The “It Gets Better Project” was started in fall 2010 in response to the loss of LGBT teenagers driven to suicide because of bullying.
In February 2013, Brown met with members of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) from across Ohio to discuss the issues affecting the lives of millions of LGBT Americans – including housing and workplace discrimination, marriage equality, and school safety. As the Supreme Court prepared to hear arguments on the legality of DOMA, Brown joined an amicus brief asking the Court to overturn the law.
In June 2011, Brown and 12 Senate colleagues united to empower LGBT young people to embrace their differences in an “It Gets Better” video.