LGBT WIN: “Protected Class” In Real Estate

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Editor’s Note: Jeff Berger is the founder of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals.

On Friday November 5, members of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) gathered in New Orleans to celebrate our third annual meeting. On Monday, November 8, we were there to witness a vote by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) on a proposal NAGLREP and the Wisconsin Realtor Association had brought forth. The proposal served to amend the NAR Code of Ethics to include sexual orientation as a protected class. The delegate vote was the last function of the 2010 NAR annual meetings and ruled in favor of LGBT as a protected class.

The November 9 headline from Realtor Magazine read, “NAR Bars Sexual Orientation Discrimination.” (NAR’s delegate body voted 93% in favor of the code change.) It was a great day for the LGBT community and the 1.4 million members of NAR. As the largest trade organization in the United States, NAR’s LGBT-inclusive definition of sexual orientation had tremendous impact in the real estate world. Furthermore, NAR’s Code of Ethics definition of realtor conduct refers to both clients and the workplace. We, at NAGLREP, now refer to NAR’s code change as our own mini Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Founded in 2007, NAGLREP is an LGBT real estate trade organization with a mission of both advocacy and business. Our advocacy goals are being achieved, and it’s an exciting time for NAGLREP’s 400+ realtor members who serve the LGBT community. NAGLREP.com receives an average of 25,000 visits per month from the LGBT community, seeking realtors who understand and advocate LGBT goals. In addition, members actively refer one another when their clients are relocating.

I have been an advocate of LGBT rights for a long time and was inspired to get ever more involved during the 2004 Presidential campaign, when gay marriage was exploited. It was during the early stages of online marketing, and I decided to establish websites enabling the LGBT community to locate LGBT professionals to help with partner planning and financial services. The sites include: gaymarriagelawyers.com, gayfinancialadvisors.com, lesbianmoney.com, and gayrealtynet.com.

I enjoy working with gay realtors because they are independent thinkers, great marketers, and understand very well that the LGBT community is searching for them online. Back in early 2007, I approached contacts from my existing site, gayrealtynet.com, and asked what they thought about a new idea, NAGLREP, a gay real estate trade association, and they loved it. Many of my existing contacts had already been involved in NAR’s leadership, but they were not lobbying for LGBT concerns. NAGLREP filled a void that was necessary and has been a great success for its members. (Special thanks to NAGLREP Vice President Eric Kodner who, after hearing of NAGLREP’s mission in early 2008, joined the organization and introduced our proposal to the Wisconsin Realtor Association.)

NAGLREP is presently working with a coalition to amend the Federal Fair Housing Law to include LGBT protections and has met with Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and his legal advisors. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. is a co-signer of H.R. 4820, The Fair and Inclusive Housing Rights Act of 2010, originally introduced by Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

About The Author

I am an advocate for LGBT rights. In 2007, I founded the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, NAGLREP, an LGBT real estate trade organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gay friendly real estate professionals. NAGLREP has a mission of both advocacy and business. On November 8th, 2010 the National Association of Realtors (NAR) delegate body voted YES on NAGLREP's proposal along with the Wisconsin Realtor Association to amend the NAR Code of Ethics to include sexual orientation as a protected class. In November of 2011 during the NAR annual meetings in Anaheim, NAGLREP submitted a proposal during the NAR Diversity Committee meeting requesting NAR redefine sexual orientation to include gender identity as it pertains to the NAR Code of Ethics. We hope to have the matter finalized by the 2012 NAR annual meetings in Orlando.

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