To RFRA or not

Religious liberty bills promise freedom, but for whom?

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JAMES RUSSELL  |  Staff Writer

In a 1989 decision, Employment Division v. Smith, involving two men who were fired for smoking peyote as part of a sacred Native American ritual and then denied state unemployment benefits, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a lower court ruling declaring that the two were not fired out of religious bias but because they violated state drug laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court returned the case to the Oregon Supreme Court to decide if a state could deny unemployment benefits to a worker fired for using illegal drugs for religious purposes? The Oregon Supreme Court ultimately sided, in a 6-3 decision, with Oregon’s Employment Division.

That ruling concerned both secular civil libertarians and those with deeply held religious beliefs, said Elizabeth Oldmixon, an associate professor of political science at the University of North Texas in Denton. A broad coalition then worked with Congress to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law.

That bill, said Oldmixon, told the Supreme Court that in such cases, to give the benefit of the doubt to the plaintiffs, not the government.

Among the groups in that earlier coalition was Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a nonpartisan educational organization that preserves church-state separation.

Today that group is actively involved in debate over state versions of religious freedom restoration bills popping up in legislatures across the country, primarily in response to court rulings legalizing same-sex marriage and an upcoming decision from the U.S. Supreme Court expected to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

The first RFRA to pass and be signed into law this year came in Indiana. Gov. Mike Pence signed that bill on Thursday, March 26.

Sarah Jones, AU’s communications associate, said the federal RFRA “passed as a shield to protect religious minorities, such as non-theists, Muslims and Jews. It strikes a balance between religious expression and the federal government’s interest in enforcing laws.”

But the federal law soon fell under scrutiny again, when the Supreme Court again struck down a portion of the 1997 Boerne v Flores ruling, said Chicago Kent College of Law Professor Sheldon H. Nahmod. That case asked whether or not the city of Boerne, Texas could prevent a Catholic church from expanding because of historical landmark and preservation laws. The court ruled for the church.

Striking RFRA’s application to state and local governments left only the federal application intact, Nahmod explained. Then another act of Congress resulted in the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, signed by President Clinton in 2000.

That ruling set a precedent for another Supreme Court ruling, however.

In 2012, Hobby Lobby, the national arts and crafts chain, sued the federal government over a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable  Care Act requiring employers to provide contraception coverage. Hobby Lobby v Burwell claimed covering contraception was a violation of the chain’s owners’ religious beliefs under the RFRA.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.

What conservative groups praised about the ruling, others panned.

At the state level
If one term could sum up the dispute between the two factions in the battle over state religious freedom laws, it’s “broad.” In the Burwell case, the term means either an unconstitutional overreach or a victory for religious liberty.

Supporters of current religious liberty bills, said Jones, “claim they just reaffirm what the federal bill already says. That isn’t true. These state level bills are written much more broadly and contain discriminatory provisions that aren’t present in the federal bills.”

She said additionally the Hobby Lobby decision ultimately “granted special privileges. One of the most common ‘special privileges’ is allowing small businesses the right to discriminate against customers, such as same-sex couples.”

But Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, author of the Texas bill — HJR 125 — disagreed. Krause, a lawyer, interprets the federal RFRA much like Oldmixon or Jones. In written answers emailed to him, Krause said the federal RFRA “walks that fine line by asserting that the federal government can only burden the free exercise of religion (or conscience) if it has a compelling interest in doing so and it’s done in the least restrictive means possible. It gives citizens a cause of action to challenge the actions of government in these certain contexts.”

The bill, if enacted, he wrote, would codify in the state Constitution the state’s current religious freedom act, which passed in 1999.

In its current state, according to the Texas Freedom Network, the Texas RFRA bars measures that “substantially burden” the free exercise of religion. In addition, it includes other carefully crafted language that has helped avoid unnecessary lawsuits while providing various remedies and ensuring that the law is not abused. It currently mirrors the federal RFRA.

Passage of HJR 125 would change nothing, according to Krause.

“All I am trying to do is give our Texas RFRA constitutional protection,” he wrote. “There were efforts to make Texas’ RFRA language constitutional as far back as two sessions ago. It’s important to remember this is not a reaction to recent events … before we had any instances of bakers, florists or photographers. The intent was by no means an ‘intent to discriminate’ or ‘license to discriminate’ but rather good policy that has served Texas well for over a decade and it deserved constitutional protection.”

Selisse Berry, founder and CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, is convinced that bills like Krause’s and its Senate companion, HJR 10 by Sen. Donna Campbell, are discriminatory.

“It reminds me of people of color not being served. It’s an overall sad state of affairs, especially given the advances of LGBT workplace equality,” she said by phone.

After signing Indiana’s religious freedom bill into law amidst backlash from a wide variety of groups, Gov. Mike Pence asked that state’s legislature to assure discrimination against LGBT people will not be allowed. But, if Krause and others said discrimination is not their intention, are activists wrong about the RFRAs?

Chicago Kent’s Nahmod said it’s difficult to tell if these pieces of legislation are motivated by anti-LGBT animus.

“Indiana doesn’t have a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance,” he said, and while it could be argued signing the RFRA was a last-ditch push to prevent passage of a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance, that can’t be proven.

“But if discrimination is the intention, then they may be seriously unconstitutional,” Nahmod said.

But Berry disagreed.

“It’s naïve to say Pence’s decision to sign the bill was not motivated by discrimination,” she said. “Whether [these bills are] intentionally meant to discriminate or not, it’s clear the LGBT community needs a federal nondiscrimination ordinance,” she said. “We have state and city nondiscrimination ordinances [but] we still need a federal law to protect LGBT people.”

……………………

Religious liberty bills currently under consideration in the Texas Legislature include:

• HB 3567 by Rep. Scott Sanford. Would prevent the government from punishing a clergy member  or person of faith who does not perform same-sex marriages.

• HB 3864, also by Rep. Sanford. Would allow child welfare organizations to deny care to children of LGBT parents based on religious beliefs. Sen. Donna Campbell filed its Senate companion, SB 1935.

• HB 3602 by Rep. Cecil Bell. Would bar retaliation against “conscientious objectors” who refuse to perform same-sex marriages. SB 1799 by Sen. Larry Taylor contains similar language.

• HB 55 by Rep. Jason Villalba and SJR 10 by Sen. Campbell. Would allow Texas’ businesses to refuse service or deny employment to LGBT people based on individual’s or religious organization’s beliefs. Villalba has since said he would reconsider his resolution, but Rep. Matt Krause filed the identical HJR 125 late on March 12.

• HB 2553 by Rep. Molly White. Would allow business owners to decide whom they serve or conduct business with based on religious convictions.

• HB 1355 by Rep. Matt Shaheen. Would make it a criminal offense for an elected official to threaten, punish or intimidate a person based on the person’s religious beliefs.

— James Russell

 

—  James Russell

Clerk in Denison shop berates mother for letting daughter choose boy clothes

Maddie

Maddie in her Easter suit

A clerk at a children’s clothing store in Denison reportedly accused a mother of child abuse for allowing her 5-year-old daughter to choose a boy’s suit and tie as her Easter outfit.

Rachel Giordano told K-TEN television station that her daughter Maddie is a tomboy who has “preferred to dress in boys clothes since she was about three-years-old.” Rachel said she doesn’t mind a bit if Maddie likes wearing boy clothes, but a clerk in Martha’s Miniatures in Denison did mind. A lot.

Rachel Giordano told the TV station that she and Maddie were hanging out at Denison’s Art Walk last Saturday, March 28, when she decided to take her daughter into Martha’s to shop for an Easter outfit. But when the store clerk saw the little girl, she was outraged.

Rachel Giordano told K-TEN, “The woman’s face was just a face of disgust. She told me that I was promoting wrong behavior. That parent’s should not let their children choose the way that they dress if it’s cross-gendered.”

She said the incident made Maddie start crying, and after they left the store, she put a post on her Facebook page recounting the incident.

When the store started getting blowback over what happened, the clerk decided to explain her side of the story. In posts on the Martha’s Miniatures FB page the clerk said, “I was so shocked she asked for a boys suit for the child. I asked her why she was encouraging this.” And in another post, “This is child abuse from the mother.”

The Martha’s Miniatures FB page has since been removed, K-TEN notes.

And just so you know, Rachel Giordano ended up taking Maddie to JCPenney’s, where the little girl got her Easter suit.

KTEN.com – No One Gets You Closer

—  Tammye Nash

Craig James: Supporting marriage equality = Supporting Satan

Craig James

Craig James

Former New England Patriots running back and current Family Research Council employee Craig James spoke out against marriage equality this week — again — declaring that supporting marriage equality is equal to practicing Satanism, according to The Huffington Post.

Commenting after his former team — the Super Bowl Champs, by the way — and Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays joined 376 businesses and companies in calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down bans on same-sex marriage.

During an FRC radio program on Monday, March 9, James declared, “If I were a current player in that locker room and my livelihood depended on me being quiet or losing it because of my belief system, I worry, I wonder. So, that’s Satan working on us.”

Yep. He said that. You can listen to it here at Right Wing Watch. And by the way, James is a Texan — one more reason that Texans who favor equality and fairness need to speak up and drown out the voices of hate that have been allowed to rule here in the Lone Star State for too long.

James was a football star at Stratford High School in Houston in the late 1970s, and in the early 1980s, he and fellow running back and future NFL star Eric Dickerson teamed up as “The Pony Express” to lead Southern Methodist University’s Mustangs to numerous victories. James’ star there was later somewhat tarnished when he admitted that he had received “insignificant gifts” as part of the scandal surrounding under-the-table payments to SMU players from the mid-1970s to 1986.

After a year in the USFL with the Washington Federals, James joined the Patriots as a running back. When injuries forced him to retire from football after the ’88 season, James started a career in radio and broadcasting, starting as an SMU game analyst before moving on to KDFW-TV and then ESPN.

James left ESPN in 2011 to run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat in the U.S. Senate when she decided not to run again. During the race, James was fired from Fox Sports Southwest because of anti-gay views he expressed in his campaign. Among other anti-gay comments, James said that being gay is a choice and that gay people will have to “”answer to the Lord for their actions,” according to the Houston Chronicle. He also chastised his opponent Tom Leppert, who had resigned as mayor of Dallas to run for the Senate, because Leppert had appeared in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Dallas’ LGBT Pride parade.

Public Policy Polling conducted polls that indicated Craig was becoming less and less popular the more people learned about him, and he eventually placed a distant fourth in the Republican Primary that year, with just 4 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz, another well-known anti-gay Texan (well, sort-of Texan), won and continues to oppose the godless LGBT hordes in Washington, most recently with a proposed constitutional amendment that would keep federal courts from prohibiting states from banning same-sex marriage.

James joined Family Research Council in 2014.

 

—  Tammye Nash

‘Christian’ activist: Bullet to the brain for gays

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Matt McLaughlin, who calls himself a “Christian activist,” has paid $200 out of his own pocket to file a ballot initiative with the California Attorney General that would require all California LGBTs to be executed by firing squad.

McLaughling says enacting his “Sodomite Suppression Act” as law would save all the non-LGBTs from having to face the wrath of God.

According to TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com, McLaughlin calls same-sex sex “buggery” and “sodomy,” and says it is “a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha [sic].”

McLaughlin also says: “Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

Any other convenient method? WTF?!

McLaughlin does not state if minors – say, high school students – would be treated as adults and included in the execution mandate.

His “Sodomite Suppression Act” would impose a $1 million fine for each act of transmitting, distributing, or performing “sodomistic propaganda” to minors and make it illegal for any LGBT person to hold public office, be employed by the state, receive any benefits such as welfare or social security or use any public assets like, for instance, roads.

You can read the complete text of the Sodomite Suppression Act here.

McLaughlin needs 365,000 legitimate signatures from California residents for his initiative to move forward.

Wonkette has also posted an article online about McLaughlin’s initiative, explaining their efforts to find out more about McLaughlin. They did find a lawyer named Matt McLaughlin with a Mail Box Express address in Huntington Beach that matches the address on the filing at the OAG’s office. But while there are a number of Matt McLaughlins that come up in a Google search none of them “seem to fit the profile of batshit lawyer with strong Jesus feelings against the gay sexytime.”

That same lawyer “submitted a citizen ballot initiative in 2003 to give bibles to all public school kids in California, grades 1-12, because ‘great literature.’” That one went nowhere because McLaughlin couldn’t get the necessary signatures.

—  Tammye Nash

Study: LGBT community faces discrimination by law enforcement

A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law reports the LGBT community faces ongoing and pervasive discrimination and harassment by law enforcement.badge

LGBT people of color and transgender individuals are adversely impacted by discrimination and harassment.

Key findings from the Williams Institute report based on several national surveys include:

  • More than one-fifth (21 percent) of LGBT people who interacted with police reported encountering hostile attitudes from officers and 14 percent reported verbal assault by the police.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of the LGBT violence survivors who interacted with police reported that they had experienced police misconduct, including unjustified arrest, use of excessive force and entrapment.
  • Two-thirds of Latina transgender women in Los Angeles County who interacted with police reported that they were verbally harassed by law enforcement, 21 percent report that they were physically assaulted by law enforcement, and 24 percent report that they were sexually assaulted by law enforcement.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of transgender respondents in a national survey reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance, 22 percent reported that they had been harassed by law enforcement because of bias, and 6 percent reported having been physically assaulted by an officer.

Williams Institute researchers also documented widespread and frequent incidents of misconduct toward LGBT people by law enforcement in all regions of the country, including many instances of severe physical and sexual abuse.

Such discrimination, harassment and abuse undermine effective policing by weakening community trust, reducing reporting of crimes by victims in the LGBT community and challenging law enforcement’s ability to effectively meet the needs of members of their communities.

The study comes as President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing issued recommendations today (Tuesday, March 3), to build stronger and more collaborative relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Among the recommendations, numerous local law enforcement agencies should:

  • adopt and enforce policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
  • implement training for officers to improve interactions with the LGBT population
  • improve data collection on misconduct by officers against LGBT people.

Among the Task Force members was former Dr. Cecil Alexander, the former federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at DFW Airport.

—  James Russell

California GOP recognizing Log Cabin

The California Republican Party voted Sunday (March 1) overwhelmingly to charter Log Cabin Republicans of California as an official affiliate of the state GOP.Screen shot 2015-03-03 at 10.13.35 AM

The vote was 861-293.

John Musella, whose term as chair of LCR-California began the same day the state GOP voted to recognize the group, said the vote “sends a strong signal that the Republicans’ ‘big tent’ has room for everyone.”

The Texas GOP, however, must have its own tent, and that tent still has a “No Gays Allowed” sign hanging on the door.

The Texas GOP just last year refused to allow Log Cabin Republicans and a second LGBT Republican group, Metroplex Republicans, to have booths at the state convention. It was at that same convention that the Texas Republican Party adopted a platform that called for “reparative therapy” for LGBTs — a discredited practice of trying to convert gays to straights.

And Republicans nation-wide seem to be more in line with Texas Republicans than with California Republicans. The GOP is still fighting desperately against the apparently inevitability of marriage equality, and the Conservative Political Action Committee — CPAC — refused to let the national Log Cabin group sign on as a sponsor of the annual CPAC conference.

Even in California, there are plenty of Republicans who disagree with recognizing Log Cabin, and the state party platform itself says homosexuality is unacceptable: “We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.”

The state party also has a bylaw that prohibits recognition of organizations focused on “lifestyle preferences.”

—  Tammye Nash

AFA’s map of bigots

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The AFA Map of Bigots. Notice they didn’t list themselves

Well, this is interesting.

The American Family Association has created the “AFA Bigotry Map,” and no, surprisingly enough, it isn’t a map that shows all the places where AFA has perpetrated its hatefulness.

AFA President Tim Wildmon explained in a written statement, “Families and businesses that express a Christian worldview on social issues often face vicious retaliation from anti-Christian zealots, and it’s time to call them out for their intolerance.” And so, they created the “Bigotry Map.”

The AFA Bigotry Map website explains: “The American Family Association has identified more than 200 groups and organizations that openly display bigotry toward the Christian faith and is educating Americans about these groups through an online map.”

The interactive map “identifies groups whose actions are deeply intolerant of the Christian religion.” These groups strive to “silence Christians and to remove all public displays of Christian heritage and faith in America,” usually through lawsuits and threats of lawsuits demanding that prayer be removed from schools and city council meetings, that 10 Commandment monuments “be stricken from courthouses and that memorial crosses be purged from cemeteries and parks.”

Wildmon claims, “Because of anti-Christian bigotry, private business owners have been sued and forced to close their businesses. Families and businesses that express a Christian worldview on social issues often face vicious retaliation from anti-Christian zealots, and it’s time to call them out for their intolerance.”

He also claims that some members of the groups targeted by the “Bigotry Map” have “committed violent crimes against Christians and faith-based groups,” and that they also target Christians with physical and “profane verbal” assaults in an effort to intimidate them.

The “interactive map” on the website is dotted with markers indicating where these groups are located and what kind of groups they are. Rainbow-striped markers denote groups with a “homosexual agenda” that “advocate for the legalization and promotion of same-sex marriage and viciously attack Christians who exercise their First Amendment right to voice support for God’s plan for marriage as between one man and one woman.”

There is a red marker with a white A for the atheist groups, a gray marker with a white cross marked out by a red X for “anti-Christian” groups which “actively engage in the complete eradication of the Christian faith from society, government and private commerce. These groups file lawsuits and use intimidation to silence any reference to Christianity from the public square.” And then there is the blue marker with the white outline of a human form to denote the “humanist” groups that believe “critical thinking and physical evidence are the sole basis for beliefs. Humanists believe science triumphs faith in issues of morality and decision-making.”

I checked the map and it only lists four “homosexual agenda” groups in Texas: HRC Dallas/Fort Worth, HRC Houston, HRC Austin and HRC San Antonio. Dallas Voice is not listed; I don’t know whether to be relieved or insulted.

Resource Center in Dallas isn’t listed. Neither is Fairness Fort Worth. Nor Equality Texas, Tyler Area Gays, … . The list of what isn’t listed goes on and on.

There are five atheist organizations listed for Texas, two anti-Christian groups (both of them Americans United groups), and five humanist groups. We LGBTs need to get busy! Those atheists and humanists are outnumbering us!

—  Tammye Nash

Two anti-trans bills in Texas House slammed by LGBT groups

Riddle-Debbie

State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Spring.

Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Spring, filed HBs 1747 and 1748 on Friday, Feb. 20 targeting transgender Texans.

HB 1747 makes it a crime for transgender Texans to use a public accommodation such as a bathroom or locker room if the gender marker does not correlate with their gender identity or expression. HB 1748 makes it a felony for business owners to repeatedly allow a person to use public accommodations if that person’s gender identity does not match their chromosomes.

Numerous state and national LGBT groups have slammed the legislation.

“Criminalizing basic bodily functions puts Texans at risk,” Equality Texas released in an action alert. “Access to gender-segregated space should be based on gender, and only gender… not on assumptions of genetics.”

Michael Silverman, the Executive Director of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, released a statement denouncing HB 1748 and a similar bill in Florida:

Bills like these target transgender people for harm by criminalizing the simple act of using a bathroom. They are an end run around non-discrimination ordinances in local areas that protect transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations. Lawmakers who sponsor this kind of mean-spirited legislation purport to be looking out for public safety.  But in reality, they are creating unsafe conditions by putting transgender people at great risk for harassment and violence

Transgender people must be able to access public facilities like bathrooms without fearing for their safety. When it comes to bathroom access, discrimination is wrong and unjust. Criminalization is outrageous and intolerable. These bills are pernicious. We hope they are soundly defeated.

Riddle has served in the House since 2003 and is a long-time opponent of LGBT equality. She currently serves as Vice Chair of Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee and a member of Calendars and Energy Resources.

—  James Russell

Arkansas bans anti-discrimination laws; is Texas next?

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, right, allowed legislation prohibiting cities and counties from enacting anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people to pass into law without his signature. Texas Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, left, has introduced a similar bill in the Texas Legislature.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday allowed legislation prohibiting cities and counties in his state from passing statutes and ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination to become law without his signature. The law, SB 202, goes into effect 90 days after the legislative session ends this summer.

Hutchinson said earlier this month that he had “reservations” about the legislation, but not enough to actually veto it. He chose instead to demonstrate those reservations by letting the bill become law without his signature. He did so despite what The Washington Post called mounting pressure from civil rights advocates nationwide.

A press release issued by a coalition of groups including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the ACLU declared, “There is nothing but discriminatory intent here. And no valid public interest can possibly be served by allowing private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristics that might be covered by local ordinances.” Even Cher skewered Hutchinson in a Tweet, accusing him of “hanging [the] LGBT community out the dry.”

But before all you Texans start looking down your noses at those ridiculous rednecks in Arkansas, be warned: The same kind of bill has been in the Texas Legislature this session. Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas.

According to Equality Texas, “SB 343 would restrict the ability of local elected officials to pass or enforce ordinances, rules or regulations that are not identical to state protections, restricting local governments to only protecting the attributes covered under state law: race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.”

That means that ordinances in Fort Worth and Dallas and Houston and even in Plano that protect LGBT people from discrimination would be, in effect, rendered useless. Of course, it also means that ordinances in Houston, San Antonio and, again, Plano that protect U.S. military veterans from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations would also be effectively overturned. But hey, the vets have already sacrificed for their country one time; surely they’ll be willing to sacrifice their right not to be discriminated against to make sure all us evil LGBTs don’t get any protections. I mean, we are a huge threat to the American way of life, after all.

As I said, Huffines’ bill, if it becomes law, would nullify the amendment adding LGBT protections to the Dallas city charter, an amendment approved last November by 76 percent of Dallas voters. I guess overturning measures overwhelmingly approved by voters — you know, like the amendment to the Texas Constitution banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage, approved by 76 percent of Texas voters in 2005 — is ok as long as you are only overturning things that Republicans don’t like.

—  Tammye Nash

HUD reiterates protections for LGBTS in lending, shelters

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued two sets of guidances intended to clarify the Equal Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 2.29.48 PMAccess to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Rule. The clarifications are intended to make it easier for LGBT people applying for home loans and for transgender men and women seeking access to homeless shelters.

The Equal Access Rule, published in 2012, ensures that housing across HUD programs is open to everyone, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

The guidance on eligibility for HUD assisted and insured housing programs, makes is “clear that housing that is financed or insured by HUD must be made available” regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, real or perceived.

It also prohibits those who own and/or operate HUD-funded or HUD-insured housing from asking about an applicant’s sexual orientation and from denying housing on that basis.

Sexual orientation and gender identity “should not and cannot be part of any lending decision when it comes to getting an FHA-insured mortgage,” according to a HUD press release.

The second guidance focused on how to serve transgenders in single-sex shelter facilities, which will “help to address the fact that almost 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT and the majority of them report harassment, difficulty or even sexual assault when trying to access homeless shelters,” the press release said. “This guidance states that a transgender client’s or potential client’s own views with respect to personal health and safety deserve serious consideration when placing the person in a single sex shelter.”

The guidance addresses appropriate placement of transgenders in single-sex facilities and it guides providers on the best way to address privacy and safety concerns in shelters without segregating or isolating trans women and men.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro said, “It’s an injustice that any transgender person is mistreated when seeking help. We issued this guidance so that shelter providers treat these Americans with the dignity they deserve. This measure is an important step in shaping a future where every person is accepted, respected and housed.”

 

—  Tammye Nash