Monthly Archives: September 2015

Are You Considering a Move to a LGBT Friendly Neighborhood?

When you’re working with a gay or lesbian realtor, they most likely know where all of the LGBT neighborhoods are.  But what if you don’t really want to live in a gay neighborhood?   One thing you and your realtor can do is look for signs that people in the area are allies or, in other cases, homophobic.

Look for Bumper Stickers

The Number of LGBT-Friendly Cities Across the US Is Growing Regularly, So Finding Cities Where You Don't Have to Worry About Being Treated Poorly Is Getting Easier By the DayCheck out the cars parks at other homes on the street.  Do you see any rainbow stickers or Human Rights Campaign equality stickers (a blue square with a yellow equal sign in the center)?  If you do, it’s a very good sign.  If you don’t, it’s not necessarily a sign that other homeowners on the street are going to hate you.  If there are other LGBT homeowners around and it’s a really liberal part of town, you may even see a rainbow flag flying.

Are there LGBT-Owned Businesses Nearby?

It can be somewhat easy to identify gay bars and clubs, and even if it’s not, you can always search online and see where they’re all located.  Usually, these bars can be found near the neighborhoods that will support them.  Another thing to do is see if your city has a LGBT chamber of commerce.  Some do, and they will have a listing of many gay and lesbian owned businesses.

Another thing you can do is look for businesses that distribute local LGBT newspapers.  Some cities have free LGBT papers that are distributed weekly for free.  Local businesses often have a display of these and other free community papers up near the entrance.  If you see these papers, you know you’re in an area that is at least open to LGBT people.  You can also talk to the people working in the business about the LGBT community.  Chances are that either someone there is LGBT or they are staunch allies who can tell you about the neighborhood.

Look at the Churches

The churches in a community can also tell you a lot about the values that those in the area hold.  If you see a lot of Baptist churches, for example, it’s a good indication that the neighborhood may be more conservative than you’d like.  On the other hand, if you see Unitarian churches or United Methodist churches, it’s a good sign that the congregations will be more welcoming.

If you need a bit of help, contact www.GayRealEstate.com and let us help you connect with a real estate agent that will ensure you find the perfect gay-friendly neighborhood for your needs.

Being LGBT in Minnesota

Are you thinking about moving to Minnesota?  As any gay or lesbian realtor will tell you, the state is a nice, if somewhat chilly, place to live.  The winters can get very harsh, especially in the northern part of the state up by the Canadian border.  However, Minnesota has a lot going for it, and it has been a fairly welcoming place for members of the LGBT community.

Same-Sex Activity

Minnesota Is a Great Place for Many LGBT Couples, and Laws Are Constantly ImprovingMinnesota was originally formed under Wisconsin law, which included that state’s ban on sodomy, although it did not just apply to same-sex couples.  In 1921, that definition was expanded, but it still didn’t specify same-sex couples only.  In 1939, the state passed a psychopathic offender law that lumped LGBT people in with child molesters and rapists; in fact, most people put in prison under this law were LGBT people who had done nothing wrong.

This law and the same-sex activity ban was challenged and defeated in 2001, and same-sex activity between consenting adults in private was no longer considered a crime.

Same-Sex Marriage

Minnesota was actually the stage for the very first case about same-sex marriage, and it happened in 1971.  When Baker v. Nelson was brought before the Minnesota Supreme Court, they declared that the laws did not allow for it, and the U.S. Supreme Court later declined to hear the appeal.  The state passed a Defense of Marriage Act in 1997, an act that was challenged in court in 2010.  In 2011, the case was dismissed as Baker v. Nelson was considered precedent.

A number of amendments were proposed that would ban marriages and comparable civil unions, but they constantly failed.  In 2011, an amendment did pass the legislature banning same-sex marriage, but the voters did not approve it.  In 2013, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage passed and was signed into law, becoming effective on August 1, 2013.

Adoption

LGBT couples have the right to adopt children, and there is no specific ban on joint couple adoptions or step-parent adoptions.  In fact, the only organization in Minnesota dedicated to finding homes for children treats opposite-sex and same-sex couples identically.

Hate Crimes

Crimes based on sexual orientation have been classified as hate crimes since 1989, and gender identity was added in 1993.

A Good Place to Live

Overall, many LGBT people enjoy living in Minnesota, especially in larger cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul.  According to a 2006 survey, 12.5 percent of all people in the state identify as LGBT, giving it the fourth highest population in the U.S.  So if you want to move to a northern state, put Minnesota on the list.

The LGBT Community and Court Precedents

Many people in the LGBT community have been watching the case in Rowan County, Kentucky.  Following the Supreme Court’s order that all same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional, states began issuing marriage licenses to all same-sex couples.  However, Kim Davis, county clerk for Rowan County, refused.  After all was said and done, she was found to be in contempt of court for continuing to refuse to issue marriage licenses to anyone, even after a federal judge ordered her to.  Now Davis is in jail and her office has begun issuing licenses.  This has, many hope, set the precedent for future challenges.

The Courts Are Quite Busy As of Late Making Choices on The Rights LGBT Community Members Should Have Across the Entire CountryPrecedent is one of the things that the LGBT community has come to rely on in many of their court battles or questions of legality.  That’s because the court itself places a lot of emphasis on precedent.  The question of precedent was brought up over and over during cases involving same-sex marriage, specifically the precedent that interracial marriage bans had been overturned in Loving v. Virginia in 1967.  The Supreme Court even referenced this case.

While there was an easy precedent case in same-sex marriage, unfortunately finding a precedent for other issues can be tricky.  For example, in many states it is legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation.  While some recent statements made by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests that federal employers cannot discriminate based on orientation, many private employers are still free to fire people at will.  This at-will employment means that employees can often be fired for any reason whatsoever, and some employers do not hesitate to use this power.  Unfortunately, because they are private employers, there’s not much that can be done, and there is really no precedent to cite.

Housing discrimination is much the same, as many gay and lesbian realtors will tell you.  There’s no precedent stating that someone has to rent or sell you a home just because you’re qualified for a mortgage or have the money.  People are free to reject your offer if they want.  The Fair Housing Act does not include sexual orientation, and even if it did, it’s very hard to prove that someone is discriminating against you unless you have documents or witnesses.  In fact, very few housing discrimination claims are even filed every year because it’s difficult to prove.

However, some LGBT discrimination may fall under things such as disability (those with HIV/AIDS, for example) or under the basis of sex.  Some precedents have been set here, and if you feel like you’ve been discriminated against, you should do some research to see if you have a case.

Posted on September 12, 2015 in Gay and Lesbian, Gay Marriage, Housing, Relocation / Moving

The Least LGBT-Friendly States

While LGBT people now have the right to marry in all 50 states, there are still plenty of places out there that are somewhat lacking in other rights.  While gay and lesbian realtors are sure to tell you about many of these issues, it’s up to you to decide if you want to move to one of these states or not.  Here are five states that you might want to avoid while looking for a new home or if your job asks you to transfer.

Mississippi

Even Though Gays Have More Rights Than Ever Before, Some States Are Still Not Very Welcoming for Gay CouplesAs one of the deep Southern states, Mississippi does not offer LGBT people much protection at all.  Naturally, the state had previously passed a gay marriage ban and continues to ban same-sex adoption.  However, oddly enough, the 2010 census showed that at least a third of all LGBT couples had one or more children, making the state the leader in same-sex couples raising children in the U.S.  Mississippi also had the largest percentage of LGBT African-American couples and came in fifth on the list of highest percentage of same-sex Hispanic couples.

Alabama

Mississippi’s neighboring state Alabama is just as unwelcoming.  The state actually passed a law that forbid discussion of LGBT issues in schools and even requires sex education instructors to state that homosexuality is a criminal offense and is not an acceptable lifestyle.  The state has no LGBT hate crime laws, although the city of Montgomery does offer sexual orientation protection.

Louisiana

Another Southern state (noticing a pattern?), many would think that Louisiana wouldn’t be on this list because of New Orleans and its huge Mardi Gras parade.  The city’s Southern Decadence pride event is among one of the largest in the world.  However, the rest of the state is very conservative.  At one point, only 31% of people in the state supported same-sex marriage, the lowest percentage of any state.  LGBT people in the state can be fired for their orientation or for being transgender, plus the state is one of the few that does continue to enforce (or try to enforce) its ban on sodomy.  In fact, in April of 2014, the state’s legislature actually voted to retain these laws.

Texas

Rounding out this list is Texas, a state with eight different cities on the list of “worst places for LGBT people to live.”  Four of these actually have been given a score of 0 by the Human Rights Campaign.  The state is also one of the worst for women, making it very difficult for lesbian couples to find a reason to move to Texas.