By Chad Taylor
In a recent story on CNN, it was reported that Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California is on the record and lost the endorsement from a Realtor group for saying that people should be able to refuse to sell their homes to gay people. I read the story twice just to make sure that I wasn’t missing something, but I wasn’t.
The subject came up during a meeting with a group of Realtors when one member, Wayne Woodyard, said “…we need to add federal protections for the LGBTQ community as the final piece of the Fair Housing Act, and the minute that I stopped speaking, Rohrabacher said “I just will not support that.” ” Rohrabacher’s congressional office confirmed that the Representative stands by his comments.
Let’s back up a little bit for a little perspective. The original version of the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It prevented discrimination to anyone based on his race, color, religion, or national origin. Discrimination based on a person’s sex, male or female, was added in 1974. In 1988, when the law was amended yet again, it was changed to include familial status (the presence of children under 18) and people with disabilities.
The Fair Housing Act is in place to insure that the American dream, a big part of which is home ownership, is available to all, not just to some. Each and every day I help families sell their homes in our beautiful city. And for the last few years, many sellers have had buyers fighting over their homes. It is not uncommon for us to receive letters from the potential buyers, telling their story if you will. Oftentimes, they also include a photo to personalize the letter. We, of course, present all of this to the seller for their consideration. But, and this is a big but, at the end of the day I compare and contrast the offers for the seller based on their merit, not based on the story. We look at the financial wherewithal of the buyer- are they fully underwritten with a true pre-qualification from a lender; is the purchase contingent or non-contingent upon the sale of another home; can the buyer close in the preferred time frame? These things matter.
I recently had a Realtor submit an offer on one of my listings for her own personal residence. She shared with me that they had been looking for a couple of years and that recently she and her husband’s offer (on another property) was not chosen because the other buyer had kids and they do not. Her story brought her to tears and I could tell that it really broke her heart to be judged by this fact alone. To add insult to injury, she was made aware that her offer was higher than the chosen buyer’s offer.
I am happy to report that our seller did accept the Realtor and her husband’s offer based on its merit. They had the strongest offer with the best terms. It was truly a win-win.
It is not my decision as to whether or not Congress decides to once again amend the Fair Housing Act to include protections for the LGBTQ community. Yet in our tribal society today, there are very few things left that are overtly inclusive. I am proud to say that in my 14 years as a Realtor, I have had the honor and the privilege to assist men and women, of all colors in the sale of their home and, in many cases, in the purchase of their new one. Many of them are Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist. Some of them have had children with disabilities. Others were recovering alcoholics (which is considered a disability under the Fair Housing Act) continuing on their road to a healthy long-term sobriety. And yes, some of them are members of the LGBTQ community.
All of our clients have the same excitement when they accept a great offer on the home that they are selling. And all of them light up with joy when their offer is accepted on their new home. Home ownership is an integral part of the American Dream which should be available to ALL Americans, not just some. Each and every American should have the opportunity to hold that new set of keys to their new home based on their hard work, good credit, and financial wherewithal, and for no other reason. At least that is this Realtor’s opinion.