Sen. Ron Wyden Proposes Federal Legislation to Protect LGBTQ People From Housing Discrimination

Nationwide, same-sex couples, and in particular black same-sex couples, are less likely to be accepted as renters than their straight, white counterparts.

LGBTQ people are not currently protected from discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act, which is meant to ensure equal access to housing in the United States.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) wants to change that.

Today, he proposed a bill that would expand the Fair Housing Act to include protections for gender identity and sexual orientation.

"It's 2019 and Americans can still be denied housing based on who they love or how they identify," Wyden says in a statement. "That alone is unconscionable. LGBTQ Americans deserve explicit and equal protection under the law, especially when it comes to something as essential as a roof over their head."

Currently, the FHA prohibits housing discrimination based on race, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Only 21 states and 200 local jurisdictions, including Oregon, have included protections for LGBTQ people in their housing statutes.

Nationwide, same-sex couples, and in particular black same-sex couples, are less likely to be accepted as renters than their straight, white counterparts.

According to a 2018 study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition—which randomly tested 6,490 property owners who posted ads on Craigslist in 94 cities—"same-sex male couples were 4.6 percentage points less likely to receive an active response than heterosexual couples."

Additionally, "Black and Hispanic same-sex male couples were 5.6 and 5.2 percentage points less likely to receive a response from a property owner compared with their same-race heterosexual counterparts."

Wyden says the Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019 aims to "protect everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, from the still present threat of housing discrimination."

Including Wyden, the bill has bipartisan support from 13 U.S. senators.

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