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National Association of Realtors Votes to End LGBT Discrimination

A May 2010 amendment of the ethical policy of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) represents a gigantic progressive landmark for the LGBT community in the United States. The monumental change was officially announced with these words:.

“We are proud to announce the NAR Professional Standards Committee has unanimously voted this afternoon during the NAR Midyear meetings in Washington, DC to amend the NAR Code of Ethics to include sexual orientation as a protected class.”.

With that, the board of directors of the NAR finally altered Article 10 of the organization’s Code of Ethics to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The guidelines in that particular section of the Code of Ethics focus upon NAR member “duties to the public.” That part of the Code, for example, already prohibits Realtors from discriminating against anyone on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. But until now there was no specific anti-discrimination protection for LGBT buyers, sellers, or renters..

Here is how the amended provisions now read, after this important pro-LGBT vote:.

Realtors shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or sexual orientation..

Realtors shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or sexual orientation..

Realtors, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or sexual orientation..

Realtors shall not print, display or circulate any statement or advertisement with respect to selling or renting of a property that indicates any preference, limitations or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or sexual orientation..

The controversial vote did garner some opposition from members who complained that it would complicate the legal process of defining discrimination and guarding against it during routine real estate transactions. Meanwhile, final and permanent official approval of the measure will also have to wait for a November vote at the NAR annual conference of member delegates in New Orleans. But this preliminary step – which passed with overwhelming unanimous support through the organization’s Professional Standards Committee – appears to be the final significant hurdle in a long-awaited process..

It is important to note that not everyone who practices real estate in the USA and has a license as a real estate salesperson or broker is a Realtor, because the Realtor designation is reserved for only those real estate professionals who are members in good standing of the NAR. Because membership in the NAR is optional, there are many real estate brokers or agents who are not subject to the group’s rules and regulations – including those pertaining to LGBT discrimination..

Most practicing real estate brokers are, however, NAR-affiliated. So the significance of this new amendment should not be understated. Those who are LGBT consumers, for instance, should be fully conscious of their rights and insist on fair and equal treatment when working with any Realtor. That means that any LGBT person who wants to look at real estate, for example, should be shown any property that he or she is interested in without being denied the same access and treatment that is afforded to heterosexuals..

But keep in mind that discrimination involving real estate transactions also means that LGBT buyers should not be steered only into neighborhoods that are exclusively or predominantly populated by LGBT homeowners. That practice, commonly referred to as “redlining,” is also a form of blatant discrimination and has been used throughout history to intentionally keep LGBT communities confined only to established LGBT enclaves. Life in a LGBT neighborhood can be fantastic and desirable, in other words, but where a person wants to live – or chooses not to live – must also remain a free choice and a totally independent decision. So anybody who suspects that they are being discriminated against by a Realtor because they are LGBT should immediately complain to NAR officials..

As NAR General Counsel Laurie Janik observed, passage of the recommendation will allow her organization to get ahead of potential government mandates regarding this kind of non-discrimination policy. With so many states legalizing LGBT marriage, for example, and with the military officially backing away from its discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, many political observers predict that Congress will soon take up the issue of inclusive federal civil rights for members of the LGBT community..

Anticipating that trend on Capitol Hill, the NAR decided to be proactive and make its own changes from within the Realtor organization. As NAR attorney Janik explained to reporters, “We know we will be ahead of Congress if we enact this [now].”.

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