Realtors association prohibits anti-gay discrimination

Posted on 27 May 2010 at 3:49pm
By DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

National Association of Gay and Lesbian Realtors proposal accepted by National Association of Realtors

Jeff Updike

The board of directors of the National Association of Realtors has voted a change to the association’s code of ethics to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The vote came during NAR’s national meeting in Washington, D.C., on May 15.
The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals proposed the policy to NAR.

Jeff Berger is NAGLREP’s founder and CEO. The organization has 30 chapters in 21 states. Bob McCranie and Barbara Stone are the Dallas chapter leaders.

"It’s an exciting time to be in real estate and see our community be recognized by NAR," McCranie said.

Changes to NAR’s code of ethics must come through a state realtor’s association, Berger said. Eric Kodner, a NAGLREP board member, brought the proposal to NAR on behalf of the Wisconsin Board of Realtors.

Berger said there were a number of  examples of discrimination based on sexual orientation that prompted the change.

"We believe it was widespread but pushed under the rug," Berger said. "It was happening all over the country."

McCranie said that discrimination is more subtle now than it was years ago, but it still goes on.

Berger mentioned one homeowner in Nashville who said, "I’m not selling to queers."

Another story he told was reported in Dallas Voice on May 8, 2008, about a Keller Williams agent in the Dallas City Center office on Lower Greenville Avenue.
That Realtor told a potential client with a property to sell, "I would not assist a person to live in a gay area. Licensed agents are accountable to help clients, care for their needs, not assist a harmful lifestyle."

That agent’s license is now inactive, according to NAR board member Jeff Updike of Re/Max Urban in Downtown Dallas.

Updike said that the proposal passed on a general consent vote at the board meeting without discussion. He didn’t believe there was much underlying opposition to the measure.

The city of Dallas already prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing. Someone who violates that could be subject to a fine up to $500.

He said that when someone joins NAR, they agree to a certain code of ethics. A Realtor who is brought up on an ethics violation could be mandated to do additional training within a certain period of time or could lose their Realtor designation and have their membership revoked.

Updike said he didn’t think this would have a big effect on how most people do business.

"But people forget that this works both ways," he said.

When he works with LGBT clients, they will sometimes ask him where the gay neighborhoods are. He said that under the amended code of ethics, he really could no longer answer that question.

The amended code of ethics does not affect state licensing or local law. However, a proposal to amend the Fair Housing Law would prohibit discrimination nationally and affect all statewide and local agencies.

Rep. John Conyers met with representatives from NAGLREP and is co-sponsor of the Fair and Inclusive Housing Rights Act of 2010. This would amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing sales and rentals, residential real estate-related transactions and brokerage services.   

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 28, 2010.

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