Last week, at an Orange County Association of Realtors delegation meeting in Washington, D.C., Rep. Dana Rohrabacher told the group that homeowners should be able to choose whether or not to sell to homosexuals. Rohrabacher is of the opinion that sellers who don’t approve of prospective buyers’ lifestyles can refuse to do business with them.
The problem here is that this practice violates the proposed extension to the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) was in the nation’s capitol lobbying for H.R. 1447 which bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. NAR has supported Rohrabacher’s political campaigns in the past, but his May 16 commentary has resulted in a loss of their endorsement.
Rohrabacher insists that his views don’t make him anti-gay. The Orange County Register reported that he chooses to focus on immorality as a determining factor in doing business. The Fair Housing Act already protects buyers from the discriminatory practices of sellers, landlords, and lenders in the areas of color, nationality, race, religion, and sex. Rohrabacher says that the law is fine the way that it is.
“We’ve drawn a line on racism, but I don’t think we should extend that line,” Rohrabacher said. “A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”
The loss of the NAR endorsement comes at a critical time in Rohrabacher’s political career. He has spent some three decades in Washington, but now faces likely the most-contested bid for re-election since he was first elected in 1988. The 70-year-old incumbent must now fend off 15 challengers, which includes eight Democrats. Rohrabacher is painfully aware of the uphill battle that lies ahead.
“It certainly can’t do me any good to have people take me off their endorsement list,” Rohrabacher said. “It’s sad to see (the association’s) priority is standing in solidarity with making sure a stamp of approval is put on somebody’s private lifestyle.”
Rohrabacher’s views have sparked outrage from other Realtor groups, as well as his political challengers. Democrat Harley Rouda told the Orange County Register that the long-term Republican representative’s views are “outlandish” and in complete opposition to the spirit of the law in regards to housing rights. The rules to buying and selling a home should apply to everyone equally.
“What Dana Rohrabacher fails to understand is discrimination is discrimination,” Rouda said. “It shows how backward his thinking is.”
But the congressman has taken his position a step further by applying the same logic to political views. If a Republican doesn’t want to sell to a Democrat (or vice versa), he/she shouldn’t be made to do so.