Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, an Orange County congressman, told a group of constituents that he believes it’s OK for a homeowner to refuse to sell their house to an LGBT person or someone with different political views. In a year in which National Association of REALTORS® is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, this was a stand that the association could not support.
The comments came during a meeting with Orange County REALTORS® in Washington DC, during NAR’s annual lobbying conference that draws REALTORS® from around the country.
NAR supports H.R. 1447, a measure that expands 1968’s Fair Housing Act to add anti-discrimination protections based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. The existing law already forbids sellers, landlords and mortgage lenders from discriminating against buyers based on a their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Rohrabacher’s remarks landed on Facebook, leading Jeff Berger, founder of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, to contact NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall.
“When a supposed champion of the REALTOR® Party outright states that housing discrimination should be lawful, I hope you agree there should be cause for concern,” Berger wrote to Mendenhall. “Ignoring the congressman’s comments belies the decades of serious work and progress NAR has made in the area of fair housing.”
Rohrabacher, who faces a tough re-election bid, said he opposes housing discrimination based on race, religion or a person’s sex.
But, as reported in the Orange County Register, he said, “there are some fundamentalist Christians who do not approve of their lifestyle. I support their rights.”
Rohrabacher said there is a difference between race-based discrimination and choosing not to do business with someone because of their lifestyle or political beliefs.
Homeowners, for example, shouldn’t be allowed to deny a sale to an interracial couple, he said. But Democrats or Republicans should be able to refuse to sell their home to people with opposing political views.
The Register asked if Rohrabacher, who uses a medical marijuana cream to ease his arthritis and supports relaxed penalties for cannabis use, thinks it’s OK if a home seller refused to do business with him based on that lifestyle choice?