Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When a House is Not a Home: Housing Discrimination among LGBTQ Families

One of the keys to keeping a balanced life is knowing where your home is.  This is especially true in the middle of days of our life when there is angst and a general sense of unsettledness. For my children, in the middle of their mom and I separating and divorcing, the children suddenly were welcome to two homes, one where their mom lived, and one where I lived with my partners. What was key throughout my years of parenting my young children was making sure that they knew they had a home, a bed, that was safe, warm, and comfortable, where they were loved.  This meant that we worked on making a house a home, which is easier said than done.  But with grit, determination, and practicing love against all kinds of odds, I think we were successful.
            Our family is not like all other families. The U.S. Department o Housing and Urban Development recently released a study finding that same couples have a difficult time discovering a place to rent together than do opposite couples.  In the study “An Estimate of Housing Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples,” 7000 inquiries were made in fifty cities across the country from June-October 2011. Two inquiries were sent to one rental unit, with the only difference being the messages as to if the couple was a same-sex or opposite sex couple. The results? Opposite sex couples were favored over gay male couples 15.9% of the time, and over lesbian female couples 15.6% of the time. What was even more amazing was that there was more discrimination where it is prohibited by law than those places not protected by such laws under the Fair Housing Act (see Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2013).
            In a country that is pushing forward with marriage equality, with more same sex parents and children coming out of their closets in this country, this housing study is illustrative of the work still to be done.  While there are laws in some states that protect those of us who are same sex parents, it is obvious that we are still being discriminated against in housing, in employment opportunities, and in our opportunities to simply wed one another or be in civil union. The struggle continues until all parents—same sex and opposite sex parents alike, and our children—have the right to seek and obtain affordable housing and not being turned away from it simply because of who one loves.  After all, what parents are trying to do is locate that special house that will soon become home for a special family.

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