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NAR: No Sexual-Orientation Discrimination

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

RMag_At_MidYear1Although not without dissent, the National Association of REALTORS®’ Board of Directors passed a recommendation at the 2010 Midyear Legislative Meetings today to amend Article 10 of the Code of Ethics to prevent discrimination against colleagues or consumers on the basis of sexual orientation. The change, which met with applause, was passed unanimously by the Professional Standards Committee earlier in the week.

Here’s the article with amended language (additions are underlined):

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.

A related recommendation amending Standard of Practice 10-3 was approved as well. The changes are as follows:

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.

A couple of members rose to express reservations about the change, citing concerns about creating additional legal complexity. Yet NAR General Counsel Laurie Janik said that passage of the recommendation would put the association ahead of the curve. “We know we will be ahead of Congress if we enact this,” she said. The change to the Code of Ethics still must go before the Delegate Body for final approval. That group convenes this November at the 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at bsummerfield@realtors.org.

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Comments
  1. Chris Kopf

    Does this mean that you cannot discriminate against the following sexual orientations?

    People who like to have sex with animals
    People who like to have group sex
    People who like to have sex with children
    People who like to have sex in public
    People who are into sadomasochism
    People who like to put their private parts in a blender

    What a can of worms. Seems to me that all of the above are sexual orientations and you cannot discriminate against these people.

  2. Brian Summerfield

    Chris:

    As number #3 — and in many cases, #1 and #4 — on your list are illegal and go against the social norms of the vast majority of people in this country, it’s pretty safe to say that they don’t fall under the “sexual orientation” classification included in the recommendation. If someone is engaging in #6, it’s safe to say that any sexual orientation they have will be short-lived.

    In any event, “sexual orientation” does not refer to specific fetishes, such as what you’ve listed here. It refers more broadly to heterosexuals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons.

    For more information, go here: http://www.workplacefairness.org/sexual-orientation-discrimination

  3. Chris:

    Neither animals nor children can consent, and both of those acts are criminal. If you have clients who engage in those activities, you are free to discriminate.

    How one engages in a sex act – groups, in public, S&M, blender buggering – is not sexual orientation and may also be criminal in some instances. Feel free to discriminate if it makes you happy.

    If you feel inclined to discriminate against someone because they’re gay, bisexual, asexual, transgendered or straight, perhaps you’re in the wrong business. Your peers have determined that as REALTORS® we will NOT discriminate on those bases.

  4. I have been an advocate of inclusion since the early nineteen seventies. I have worked hard all these years so everyone can know true sexual orientation is really a non-issue only inflated by what folks are not aware of and are afraid to find out about. Fear, of what we do not know, will always hinder the development of the human spirit. Congrats to NAR for once again leading the way towards a more peaceful and happy society.

  5. Scott McDonald

    The law said sex with people of the same gender was illegal 30 years ago, in every state.

    But now it’s ‘legal’. Does that make it right?

    If the laws are changed by the Non Hetero Sexual Orientation agenda people, and all these things become ‘legal’, will it still be wrong?

    Yes, the sex with groups, children, animals, house plants, in public, suicidesex, tantric sex, aphrodite worship sex cults, child molesters, convicted sex offenders will all still be, sadly, degrading themselves far below the honor and dignity of the image of God in which they were created.

    And yes God still loves them, and yes their behavior will still be wrong.

    FORCING a Realtor TO work with such deviants, is UNETHICAL, IMMORAL, AND INTOLERANT of his moral code. Let him CHOOSE to, and show his moral strength.

    This is gutless and disgusting so called ‘leadership’. I paid for this?

  6. Anne Meczywor

    It is curious to me that this would be anything remotely controvercial to Realtors. We are in the BUSINESS of selling property – not in the business of sticking our noses into someone else’s personal business. There are a whole list of topics that are irrelevant to me when I am helping someone to buy or sell property, and sexual orientation is definitely one of them. Why would anyone be willing to toss out over 10% of their potential income over something that in no way, shape, or form affects a transaction or changes the Realtor’s life?

  7. Jay Little

    Really Chris Kopf?
    Do you really feel that gay and lesbian Realtors are in the same category or distinction with the groups mentioned? I can not believe that in this day and age people can still believe these things…

  8. Carmen

    I wouldn’t mind if I don’t know.

  9. Soldat

    This is a change in societal norms, not an acknowledgement or realization of truth. 50 years ago, psychologists classified homosexuality as a mental illness, or at least as a fetish. Homosexuality was removed from their manual because of pressure from homosexuals and a certain doctor that was persuaded by his emotions rather than science. He’s recently changed his stance based on science, and the homosexual community naturally shuns him now that he disagrees.

    I find it interesting that other sexual behavior is still classified as an abnormal sexual deviation caused by various events in one’s life, but homosexuality is not.

    Regardless, such is the way of our society. We used to require people to be married before they could buy a house together (or rent a room). Now we let anyone shack up. It’s working out great for those interested in making money, but it’s a real drain on the health of our society. My only suggestion is keep your own life clean in the eyes of God and behave ethically and honestly with your clients within the boundaries established. The Bible tells us what is right/wrong so that we can keep our own lives pure and to try and influence society by providing a positive example; we’re not to bash people over the head for their discretions.

  10. Andy Maierhofer

    I have to agree most with Anne Meczywor. I don’t give a hang about my clients’ sexual orientation any more than I do about their religion or ethnicity. None has anything to do with our business or mission and should not be discriminated against even without the legality.

    I do have a problem with anyone who has such a case of brain rot, whether religious or political, that it is the sole motivation to a decision. But though I have such a problem I don’t discriminate.

  11. Jim Dye

    I rose to speak against it in the directors meeting. In the risk management forum, a speaker told us this was going to be on the radar screen for for HUD for a distant future, but nothing anywhere near immediate.

    Having had fairly extensive exposure to many suits Realtors have had to defend, I have seen how the plaintiff’s bar would hold up a copy of our Code in order to impeach our agent in the suit. While failure to adhere to a standard in the code is a shortcoming, it is not pertinent in the courtroom. Nonetheless, try sitting there having a code violation pointed out when you are on trial for another matter, and pretend it is something that does not influence the mind of a jury. [Why! He cannot even live up to the ethical standards of his group! He surely would then be capable of ...." fill in the tort here].

    I do not think services – or even common courtesies – should be denied on the basis of orientation, but this DOES create a new area of liability for members, one which i thought we moved away from in the early 90s. But, “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” as they say in the south of France.

    I do wonder how we will be expected to know in some cases, however.

    Bottom line: every one of us should conduct ourselves with regard for the dignity of all customers, but this change will cost some people money and trouble they would not otherwise have had. GC Janik was correct saying we’d be ahead of the curve, but she did not say that my concerns were unfounded or impossible.

    I hope it gets further thought.

  12. Renee L. Perry

    I applaud the Board’s recommendation. One’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with buying and selling real estate.

  13. This is a very exciting topic. I am really enjoying all the diverse points of view here. I am courious though if someone were to choose to discriminate against any GLBT individual just what is it you would do?

  14. Fred

    I am disgusted at some of the homophobic and right-wing religious comments on here (@Chris Kopf, @Scott McDonald, @Soldat) and can not even believe what I have read! No one is forcing anyone to work with anyone else. The point is that you can NOT discriminate against a person because of their sexual orientation.

    Being gay is not a choice or a preference – It IS part of who a person IS inside. Nobody wakes up and says “I think I am straight today ” or ” I think I am gay today” it is not a choice… Let us all keep an open mind and focus on being Realtors.

  15. Montemalone

    Sexual orientation is not a choice.
    If you think it is, exactly when did you choose the opposite sex? Was it in high school? College? Kindergarten? I’m curious to know by what process you decided?
    The only choice that is protected by law is religion. How about we abolish that law? If people choose to believe in sky fairies, I think that makes them loony. We don’t need any loony Realtors, or customers for that matter. Don’t you agree?

  16. ajax

    Ditto on “Is this what I’m paying my dues for?” comment.

    In this season of a severe real estate crisis I find it unbelievable that NAR “leadership” would press this hot-button issue. I would guess a sizable chunk of Realtors are against this change in standards & a chunk of them may just leave. All this for perceived discrimination & wanting some people to “feel” better about their behavior.

    Gay groups in general are on the upper end of the economic ladder & need protection from what? A far cry from the inequities once experienced by the groups currently protected by federal law. What a slap in the face to those who truly suffered housing discrimination in the past.

    Its time to communicate w/ your local board reps & clean out NAR Professional Standards, or quit this pathetic organization altogether. There are other options.

  17. I just pulled out our Code of Ethics and reviewed it again. Carefully placed in this Code are such words as “the standards of their calling”, “integrity and honor”, “to eliminate practices which may damage the public or which might discredit or bring dishonor to the real estate profession”, the Golden Rule, Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12), “obligated to treat all parties honestly”, “the clients best interest”, etc. All of these quotes and many more from our Code represent very high standards for Realtors. Furthermore, I believe that Article 10 in it’s present form covers all we need to keep that standard at a high level.
    We do not need to add “life-style choice” as a protected class. What are we thinking in the name of being politically correct and exercising more extreme tolerance? Why are Realtors even considering this issue? A few Realtors jump on a website, stir up an issue and all of a sudden we all need to amend the Code of Ethics. We have enough liability as it is. This code would impose a higher standard than the law currently allows. If passed this would eventually affect the property codes, (in some states Community Property Rights), the definition of marriage and who knows what else.
    I have a baton in my office that was used in a relay race to pass off to the next runner in line. In November at the NAR Conference we will be passing a baton to the next generation of Realtors. I trust we will think through our vote. Let’s pass the right thing along and not a burden. Don’t allow this raging culture war we’re going through in America to affect the Real Estate business. There is much at stake in your vote. Your involvment is paramount to the foundation which is being laid for the next generation. Do the right thing and keep Real Estate positive—defeat this addition to Article 10 of the Code of Ethics.

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