A California Republican lost the endorsement of a national realtors’ group after claiming it should be legal to refuse housing to LGBTQ people.
On May 16, U.S. House Rep. Dana Rohrabacher allegedly told the Orange County Association of Realtors that homeowners should have the right to refuse to “sell their home to someone [if] they don’t agree with their lifestyle,” adding that individuals are free to “choose who they do business with.”
The remarks were first reported by Wayne Woodyard, former president of the Southern California-based group.
Woodyard told the Orange County Register that the conversation began when representatives with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) asked him to support HR 1447, a Congressional bill on LGBTQ protections in housing.
Titled the “Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2017,” the legislation would “extend the protections of the Fair Housing Act to persons suffering discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation, and for other purposes.”
While Rohrabacher supports nondiscrimination laws on the basis of religion, race, or sex, he claimed the buck stops with LGBTQ protections.
“We’ve drawn a line on racism, but I don’t think we should extend that line,” the Republican told the Register when asked about his earlier comments, adding: “A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”
“There are some fundamentalist Christians who do not approve of their lifestyle,” he added. “I support their rights.”
After Rohrabacher confirmed his prior remarks to the California paper, the NAR pulled its endorsement of the incumbent, who is facing a tough reelection campaign in coastal Orange County’s House District 48. “After reviewing all new, relevant information, it was determined that Rep. Rohrabacher will no longer receive support from NAR’s President’s Circle,” the NAR said in a statement.
At least 15 challengers are running against him. Opponents include former Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh and Democrat Harley Rouda, whose late father once served as NAR president.
The national trade group, which counts an estimated 1.1 million members around the U.S., claimed the candidate’s anti-LGBTQ beliefs are antithetical to the NAR code of ethics. The organization’s bylaws oppose any form of discriminatory bias on the basis of “sexual orientation or gender identity.”
In a statement, NAR further urged federal lawmakers to pass HR 1147.
“We certainly hope that Congress will support the elimination of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” the group said.
As Rohrabacher gears up for the June primaries in a district Hillary Clinton won by two percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, the conservative claimed that being abandoned by the NAR wouldn’t help his chances. The organization has, thus far, donated $5,000 to his reelection campaign.
“It certainly can’t do me any good to have people take me off their endorsement list,” he claimed. “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.”
Rohrabacher’s opponents have already begun to use his anti-LGBTQ comments against him in the race.
Calling the statements “outlandish and unacceptable,” Rouda told the Register: “What Dana Rohrabacher fails to understand is discrimination is discrimination. It shows how backward his thinking is.”
The Republican also opposes the Violence Against Women Act and LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination in the workplace.