President Joe Biden’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just announced that it will investigate sexual orientation and gender identity housing discrimination claims and signaled that they are looking into overturning one of the Trump administration’s most odious anti-transgender policies.
In a directive released today, the HUD said that it will interpret the Fair Housing Act of 1968’s ban on discrimination based on sex to include anti-LGBTQ discrimination and investigate claims made by LGBTQ people dating back to January 20, 2021.
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A statement announcing the directive cites “a number of housing discrimination studies which indicate that same-sex couples and transgender persons… experience demonstrably less favorable treatment than their straight and cisgender counterparts when seeking rental housing.”
The HUD referred to the Supreme Court’s landmark LGBTQ decision in Bostock v. Clayton Co., which found that Title VII’s ban on discrimination “based on sex” prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity because it’s impossible to discriminate against LGBTQ people without taking their sex into account.
“Housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity happens throughout the United States,” a HUD official said in a press call. “Housing providers need to know it violates the law, and it demands urgent enforcement action.”
Randall Coffman, a gay man in Florida, may have faced housing discrimination that would be covered by the directive today. He was allegedly kicked out of his apartment when his landlord Jackie Cooper found out he was gay.
Shortly after he moved into an apartment, she told him that he should not have women visiting him late, and he said that that wouldn’t happen because he’s gay.
Cooper started harassing Coffman and eventually kicked him out of his home. He recorded her saying she doesn’t “want homosexuals coming in and out of my place.”
But he couldn’t even try to make a claim against her Cooper because his county did not ban housing discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Democrats haled the rule change.
“HUD’s actions today to fully enforce the Fair Housing Act will guarantee protections for our LGBTQ friends and neighbors and ensure every American is able to access housing free from discrimination,” said Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) in a statement. “Housing saves lives.”
Today’s directive does not change the Trump administration’s modification of the Equal Access Rule. The Trump administration modified the rule so that homeless shelters that receive federal funds could openly turn away transgender people, and even issued a memo explaining to homeless shelters how to spot a transgender woman.
“HUD rejects the prior administration’s unfinalized proposed rule that would have weakened the protections of the Equal Access Rule,” the HUD official said, adding that they’re currently in the process of investigating that rule.