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House of Representatives Passes Equality Act—Potential Industry Impact

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, by a vote of 236-173. The act includes protections for LGBTQ people against discrimination in housing.

The act is intended to approximate current state anti-discrimination laws on a national level, providing a blanket of protection against discrimination throughout the country, adding protections against LGBT discrimination into the the federal Civil Rights law.

A Move Toward Equality

The Equality Act is one of several steps that has been made this year to protect LGBTQ homeowners from discrimination. Earlier this month, Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King joined with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine in promoting the Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019. The senators are introducing legislation intended to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the classes that are protected from discrimination by the Fair Housing Act.

“All Americans deserve a fair and equal opportunity in the sale, rental, or financing of housing,” said Senator Collins.  “Throughout my Senate service, I have worked to end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, and it is time we ensure that all people have full access to housing regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  I urge our colleagues to join us in supporting this important legislation.”

“Safe and affordable housing is the basic building block for all Americans seeking to achieve economic, educational, and personal success,” said Senator King. “No one should be denied access to this vital resource because of who they are—but unfortunately, under current law there are no protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This is wrong, plain and simple. We need this legislation to make sure LGBTQ Americans have the same access to housing as anyone else.”

Diversity, Inclusion, Fairness

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that landlords could be held liable for discrimination if they failed to respond to harassment faced by tenants who belong to a protected class.

In its ruling, the three-member panel of judges said that not only did the Fair Housing Act create liability when a landlord intentionally discriminated against a tenant based on a protected characteristic, but “it also creates liability against a landlord that has actual notice of tenant‐on‐tenant harassment based on a protected status, yet chooses not to take any reasonable steps within its control to stop that harassment.”

During 2018, the American Mortgage Diversity Council hosted a series of LGBT Town Hall events, bringing together participating servicers and LGBT community groups for a day of discussion regarding issues affecting the LGBT community from both a homeownership and workplace inclusion perspective. Those meetings eventually led to the publication of a white paper on the topic, which you can read here.

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a contributing writer for DS News. He is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing, and has studied abroad in Athens, Greece. An East Texas native, he also works part-time as a photographer.
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