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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 23, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 38
Sen. Kerry introduces LGBT fair housing bill
Sen. Patty Murray signs on as cosponsor
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Sen. Kerry introduces LGBT fair housing bill
Sen. Patty Murray signs on as cosponsor

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced legislation on September 22 to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in housing and credit.

Washington Senator Patty Murray is one of the seven original co-sponsors.

The Housing Opportunities Made Real - or HOME - Act would amend the 1968 Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Fair Housing Act was a landmark civil rights bill pushed through Congress by then-president Lyndon Johnson. It banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin.

The HOME Act would also amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prohibit discrimination in lending. The measure also bans credit discrimination because of source of income and marital status.

The Kerry bill would strengthen protection for disabled people and LGBT parents with custody of a child.

Finally, it would give the Attorney General pre-litigation investigative power to enforce the law.

Besides Murray, the original co-sponsors are Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Chris Coons of Delaware, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Dan Inouye of Hawaii. A companion bill will be introduced in the House by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

'It's hard to believe that in 2011, any law-abiding, tax-paying American who can pay the rent can't live somewhere just because of who they are,' Kerry said in a statement. 'Housing discrimination against LGBT Americans is wrong, but today in most states there isn't a thing you can do about it. This legislation would end discrimination that continues to hurt people.'

According to Kerry's office, organizations endorsing the bill include the Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund.

'Today, federal civil rights laws do not protect all people, and leave the door open for unscrupulous and bigoted people to deny housing choice to people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income, or marital status,' the groups wrote in an endorsement letter, along with organizations including the National Council of La Raza, NAACP, and ACLU.

LGBT people in Washington state are protected by state law from discrimination in housing and credit, but the HOME Act would add federal protections and enable the Justice Department to intervene in individual cases. The HOME Act expands on previous administrative decisions by the Obama administration.

In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced new regulations to bar discrimination against LGBT people by owners of housing units financed or insured by HUD.

HUD also prohibited lenders from using gender identity or sexual orientation as eligibility criteria for federally backed mortgages.

In addition, the regulations clarified that 'eligible families' under numerous HUD programs include LGBT families.

In May, Kerry introduced legislation to combat homelessness among LGBT youth. Murray also co-sponsored that bill.

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