Members of Congress have introduced a bipartisan bill to protect sexual orientation and gender identity from housing discrimination, reported ABC 13.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and eleven colleagues from all parties introduced the Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019. This bill seeks to add sexual orientation and gender identity to protected groups under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Currently, only race, color, religion, national origin, sex, family status, and disability are protected.

“I began my career as a fair housing lawyer and I saw firsthand how housing has the power to influence families’ health, stability, economic prospects, and the futures they build,” Kaine said. “No American should be turned away from a house because of who they love, but that’s the reality many LGBTQ Americans face when they look for a home.”

A study from 2018 found that LGBTQ couples faced discrimination when seeking housing. These couples’ inquiries into a rental unit were ignored more often than non-LGBTQ couples.

“It’s 2019 and Americans can still be denied housing based on who they love or how they identify,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, one of the co-sponsors of the bill. “That alone is unconscionable. LGBTQ Americans deserve explicit and equal protection under the law, especially when it comes to something as essential as a roof over their head.”

The bill has been supported by a number of LGBTQ advocacy groups – the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, Human Rights Campaign, and Equality Virginia – as well as housing organizations – the National Association of Realtors, National Housing Law Project, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Currently, 21 states and D.C. protect LGBTQ people from housing discrimination.

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