June is Pride Month, a time when the United States celebrates the important contributions of people from the LGBTQ community. This is a time for celebrations, remembrances, and reflection, a time when we take pride in how far we’ve come as a county, but also a time when are aware of how far we’ve yet to go.
Over the past decades, we have made many forward strides in the march toward equality, with numerous legislations that have lifted the quality of life for people from all backgrounds. One of the most important is the Fair Housing Act, which was passed in 1968.
This legislation addressed numerous issues with housing inequality, but the overall impact was that it became illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, family status, or disabilities.
However, there are some important aspects missing from this legislation, which has now aged over half a century. 1968, American lawmakers did not include sexual orientation and gender identity.
While numerous states have specific language against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, these terms are not found in the current Fair Housing Act that reigns as federal law. But some lawmakers are trying to address this issue by amending the Fair Housing Act.
Pride Month: How it’s Woven into the Fair Housing Act
A History of Pride Month
Pride Month has become an important part of our national narrative, but it hasn’t always been this way. According to National Today, the celebration is rooted in the Stonewall Riots of 1969. In New York, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. In response to this raid, patrons, staff, and the area residents rioted in the streets, demanding a place where they could live their lives in peace.
A year after the riots, Brenda Howard organized the first Gay Pride Week, which has evolved into the Pride Month that we recognize today. The first U.S. president to recognize Pride Month was Bill Clinton, and June has become associated with the LGBTQ community ever since.
One of the largest and most important events for Pride Month is the New York Pride Parade. This is the most well-known of all Pride Month parades; in 2019 it’s estimated that the event was attended by over 2 million people.
There have been many important steps forwards throughout the years. Same-sex marriage, for example, was made legal in all 50 states thanks to a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court. Just over half of all states in the U.S. have some form of language in their laws making it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
But there is still much work to do, which is why Pride Month remains all the more important. There is still a glaring flaw in the national statutes. While the Fair Housing Act created numerous positive and critical changes, it left a big gap for the LGBTQ community. However, there are signs that this gap may be bridged in the near future.
What is the Fair Housing Act?
Created in 1968, the Fair Housing Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, made it illegal to discriminate based on a variety of factors. The law impacted anyone who directly provides housing, including landlords and real estate companies, as well as municipalities, banks, lending institutions, and other organizations that can have an impact on housing availability.
One of the main goals of the Fair Housing Act was to prohibit race discrimination on the sales and renting of homes and apartments. But the law also addressed issues such as discrimination in housing based on religion. The law made significant changes, including changes to zoning laws that limit the use of private homes as places of worship.
Overall, the Fair Housing Act was part of the Civil Rights Act, one of the most impactful pieces of legislation ever created by the United States government.
But even after all of wonderful changes made by the Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act, many people feel there is still progress to be made. In particular, there is a desire to include sexual orientation and gender identity into the Fair Housing Act. These efforts have been pushed forward by the proposed, but not yet passed, Fair and Equal Housing Act.
Fair and Equal Housing Act
The Fair and Equal Housing Act, which was brought before Congress in 2019, seeks to fill this gap in the United States code. For a congressional bill, it is surprisingly simple, straightforward, and clear. Presented by Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, (who you’ll likely most remember as Hillary Clinton’s running mate) this bill sought “to extend the
protections of the Fair Housing Act to persons suffering discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and for other purposes.”
Essentially, the bill would not have created a new law, but would have instead amended the Fair Housing Act, currently in place, and added language that identifies sexual orientation and gender identity to the list.
This proposed law was presented to Congress in 2019 but was unable to move forward. It has yet to be presented to the current Congress. However, many people in the LGBTQ community are hopeful that this bill will once again be reconsidered by the United States Congress in the near future.
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