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Fair housing versus the First Amendment

5 Jun
A Boston pacifist is refusing to rent to a Veteran, on the grounds that her beliefs and his are too different for them to enter into contractual relations.

And she is right.

People should not be forced to associate with others except when they are willing to.  Desire for profit (including rental income) should be the tool that dissolves irrational prejudices.  It won’t dissolve everyone’s in every case, and that’s OK.

In D.C. and adjacent Mongomery County, Maryland, where federal bureaucrats and lobbyists are the bulk of the voters, and certainly of the campaign donors, fair housing law includes over twenty categories including personal appearance, source of income, political affiliation, and sexual orientation.

So if a Nazi or a KKK member or a Communist or a black or white supremacist wanted to be your tenants, you could not deny them because of their political affilation.

As a realtor I would say some years 20% to 40% of my clients are gay, usually gay and lesbian socialists, in many cases people who run gay and lesbian and other “progressive” political groups.  At least one of these, aiming to buy a house with her partner and raise a child, would always ask me if there were any gays or lesbians on the blocks they looked at.

In violation of my First Amendment protected right to free speech it was illegal for me to answer that question.  Because commercial speech does not deserve First Amendment protection, and so fair housing laws have been interpreted to violate the First Amendment.  When I told my client I could answer that question when we looked at property in Virginia (where fair housing law covers fewer categories, only age, race, religion and a few others), my lesbian socialist friend and client said “Oh but you can tell me!  That law is meant to protect me!”  Though what it says is that I can provide no information about anyone’s sexual orientation.

Boston Landlady Refuses to Rent to Veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan Wars