22 states ban housing discrimination against gays, rights groups say in response to Rohrabacher statement

Orange County Congressman Dana Rohrabacher ignited a firestorm when he said this month Congress shouldn’t extend fair housing protections to gays and lesbians.

But, California and 21 other states already have done so, according to two LGBTQ websites.

Currently, it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in Rohrabacher’s home state as well as in such states as Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Utah, the sites say.

Twenty of those states, including California, also extend fair housing protections to people on the basis of “gender identity.”

Rohrabacher, a Republican seeking a 16th term in Congress, told Orange County Realtors delegation during a May 16 meeting at his Capitol Hill office he opposes a pending measure extending the U.S. Fair Housing Act to gays, lesbians and transsexuals. He repeated that view in an interview with the Southern California News Group Thursday, saying homeowners should have the right to “choose who they do business with.”

“We’ve drawn a line on racism, but I don’t think we should extend that line,” Rohrabacher said.

The Fair Housing Act passed in 1968 forbids home sellers, landlords and lenders from denying housing to people because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin or because they’re disabled. But gays, lesbians and transsexuals are not explicitly included.

The Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2017 would extend housing protections to those groups. That bill is still in committee.

“It’s very easy for the congressman to ignore the wishes of his own state,” said Charlotte Clymer, a spokesperson for the Washington, D.C., based Human Rights Campaign, one of two websites that compiled the state-by-state list of housing protections for gays and lesbians. “But Californians long ago, loud and clear, made their views known on this, and he should follow suit.”

California law was amended in 1999 to ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation and amended in 2004 to ban discrimination based on his or her gender identity, according to the website LGBTMap.org.

Twenty-eight states don’t explicitly ban housing discrimination against gays and lesbians, LGBTMap reported. They include Southern states such as Mississippi, Alabama and the Carolinas, and farm states like Kansas and Missouri. But Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan also do not have explicit housing protections for gays and lesbians, the website reported.

Meanwhile, former Orange County GOP Chair Scott Baugh, Rohrabacher’s chief Republican rival in his re-election bid, issued a statement Friday supporting legislation “protecting homebuyers from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.”

“It is outrageous that a sitting congressman would publicly defend discriminating against gay people,” Baugh’s statement said.