Metro Weekly

California congressman loses realtors’ endorsement for anti-gay comments

Dana Rohrabacher says homeowners who object to the gay "lifestyle" should be allowed to refuse to sell to gay people

Dana Rohrabacher – Photo: Gage Skidmore.

A national realtors group is pulling its endorsement of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) after the Orange County congressman said that homeowners should be allowed to refuse to sell to LGBTQ people.

According to the Orange County Register, Rohrabacher met with several members of the Orange County Association of Realtors in Washington on May 16. At that meeting, Wayne Woodyard, a former president of the group, reportedly asked the congressman if he would support a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) to extend nondiscrimination protections in the Fair Housing Act to LGBTQ individuals.

In response, Rohrabacher reportedly told the group: “Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone [if] they don’t agree with their lifestyle.” Woodyard then posted his recollection of Rohrabacher’s comments to Facebook.

When asked about his comments, Rohrabacher confirmed his opposition to extending fair housing protections to the LGBTQ community. 

“A person who owns their own home, they have a right to choose who they do business with,” he told the Register. “We’ve drawn a line on racism. But I don’t think we should extend that line. A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”

The National Association of Realtors said in a statement that it had decided to withdraw their endorsement in response to Rohrabacher’s comments. The group also removed his name from a list of candidates to whom association members can donate.

“The association’s member Code of Ethics is far ahead of Congress on gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination. We certainly hope that Congress will … support the elimination of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” the association said in a statement.

Rohrabacher insists he is not “anti-gay” and opposes discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or sex.

“There are some fundamentalist Christians who do not approve of [gay people’s] lifestyle. I support their rights,” he said.

Rohrabacher added that he was disappointed to see the NAR pull its endorsement, saying “it’s sad to see [NAR’s] priority is standing in solidarity with making sure a stamp of approval is put on somebody’s private lifestyle.”

But others are applauding the decision, including Jeff Berger, a Florida agent and the founder of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, who wrote a letter to NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall requesting that NAR revoke its support of Rohrabacher after reading Woodyard’s Facebook post.

“When a supposed champion of the Realtor Party outright states that housing discrimination should be lawful, I hope you agree there should be cause for concern,” Berger said in the letter. “Ignoring the congressman’s comments belies the decades of serious work and progress NAR has made in the area of fair housing.”

Berger elaborated on those remarks, telling The Hill: “We hope that if this behavior we’ve encountered again by legislators should arise, that [the NAR] will take a stand and let everyone know that their organization is serious about fair housing.”

Rohrabacher currently faces a tough re-election battle, as he’s one of several Republicans representing districts where Hillary Clinton prevailed over Donald Trump during the 2016 election. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report currently rates the race as a “toss up.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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