A Conversation with the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals
In 2010, the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals achieved a boon. The association successfully led a call to amend the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Code of Ethics to include protection for sexual orientation.
The change in NAR’s Code of Ethics prevented discrimination against colleagues or consumers based on sexual orientation.
Jeff Berger, a soft-spoken Realtor from Boca Raton and founder of NAGLREP, called this his organization’s “greatest victory.”
This month marks the annual LGBT Pride Month. In celebration of the month-long event, Movoto Real Estate spoke with prominent members of NAGLREP about the organization’s past and future. As supporters of fair-housing initiatives, we believe NAGLREP and similar organizations have achieved much in promoting the housing market in the LGBT community.
National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals
NAGLREP was founded in 2007 with two missions: To act as a trade association for gay and gay-friendly Realtors and to work on the nation’s fair-housing laws. Since its inception, it has worked closely with the NAR’s Diversity Committee.
“The long-term perspective from NAGLREP is to begin looking at a rewrite of the nation’s housing laws,” Todd Shipman, a member and past president of the association, told Movoto in a phone interview.
While the amount of fair-housing issues in the country are extensive, some are:
- Ownership concerns; and
- State-level discrimination.
For more information, the Human Rights Campaign compiled a guide for LGBT couples. Though not exhaustive, it is an excellent resource.
Changing the Game
NAGLREP’s most prominent success was the amendment to NAR’s Code of Ethics. Both Berger and Shipman believed the passage of the amendment will act as an example for the future legislation. We generally agree.
It’s no secret that NAR is a large trade association. From the association’s own lips, it markets itself as America’s largest trade association with more than 1 million members.
In other words, when lawmakers take up the equal rights legislation in the future, they will look at NAR as an example of a large group that has already banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“It’s our opinion that this will set a good precedent that the largest trade organization in the world has voted to not allow discrimination based on sexual orientation,” Berger said.
Inclusive Means Everyone
NAGLREP’s future is revisiting its past. Recently, the association began working toward another amendment to NAR’s Code of Ethics. This time around NAGLREP is tackling gender identity, or a person’s sense of his or her gender.
When NAGLREP worked to help pass the first amendment in 2010, gender identity wasn’t included, though not purposefully.
“(The amendment) was written and passed, and we all assumed that sexual orientation included gender intently, but it just got overlooked,” Shipman said.
One reason NAGLREP started to re-examine the issue was because the U.S. Department of Housing and Development has begun looking at the issue.
For example, in January HUD put forward new regulations to make sure its housing program is open to everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“They are trying to bring it full circle, so we brought this issue back to the Diversity Committee,” Shipman said.
Last month, NAR’s Diversity Committee took up the issue of gender identity and voted to pass it along to the association’s Professional Standards Committee, essentially the group that works through writing the amendment.
If the amendment makes it out of the Professional Standards Committee, and we truly hope it does, it would be up for a vote at NAR’s annual convention in November.
“It’s going to take a little bit of work,” Shipman said, adding he believed the amendment has “pretty good support.”
Why is this Necessary?
Let’s take a moment and put aside the social aspect of fair housing for the LGBT community. It’s obvious inequality exists and needs to be dealt with.
NAGLREP couched its initial amendment in terms of consumer service, and plans do the same with the upcoming gender identity amendment. At its core, NAR is consumer based. This includes the LGBT community.
“We have crafted this Code of Ethics that we abide by and it’s about consumer protection and houses for everybody,” Shipman said. “You can’t discriminate against any group.”
We can look at it another way as well. According to the 2010 Census, there were 131,729 same-sex married couple households and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households in the United States. Do you think all these couples are living in apartments? Neither do we.