June 09, 2017

Kaine Introduces Bill To Protect LGBT Americans From Housing Discrimination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine led 15 of his colleagues to introduce the Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2017, a bill that would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the classes protected from discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), to ensure equal housing opportunities for all Americans. U.S. Representative Scott Taylor (R-VA) introduced the original House version of this bill in early March of this year. The FHA only prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. Currently, 22 states, the District of Columbia, and over 200 localities protect sexual orientation and gender identity in their housing discrimination statutes.

“As a former civil rights attorney who focused on fair housing, I learned that a house is more than just an object. It’s part of the very definition of who you are as a person and is central to every American’s life,” Kaine said. “Because of incomplete protections in federal housing law, LGBT Americans can face discrimination when they try to buy or rent a home, just because of who they are. This is about equality, and no American should be turned away from a home they love because of who they love. I would like to thank Rep. Taylor for his leadership on this issue, as well as all the civil rights attorneys out there fighting for justice on this issue every day.”

“This bill protects and codifies a fundamental American principle: fairness, respect, and equal treatment under the law,” said Congressman Taylor. “Nobody should face discrimination about where they live because of who they love.”

A 2015 Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Virginia report found that LGBT individuals in the Richmond, Virginia area were 44% more likely to be denied housing than those individuals not perceived to be LGBT.

Kaine is also a cosponsor of comprehensive legislation introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley, the Equality Act, which would amend federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service. 

During his legal career, Kaine worked as a fair housing lawyer from 1984 to 2001. Throughout that time, his cases were focused on implementing provisions of the Fair Housing Act throughout Virginia. As a Richmond lawyer, he represented Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. (HOME) in its historic suit against Nationwide Mutual Insurance for industry-wide discriminatory redlining practices in the issuance of homeowners insurance.

Joining Senator Kaine as original cosponsors of the legislation are U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Patrick Leahy (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Corey Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).