"Today, I am proud to announce a new equal access to housing rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose."
—Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
That statement drew a standing ovation from LGBT advocates gathered at this past weekend's “Creating Change” conference. Having organized in the LGBT community since 2007, I'm far too familiar with the stories of families put through hardships because they tried to rent or purchase a home together — like Michelle DeShane, a woman who wanted to add her partner Mitch, a transgender man, to her housing voucher. The couple was referred to an agency in a neighboring jurisdiction after being told they didn’t fit the local agency's definition of a family. I’ve also HEARD too many stories of LGBT homeless youth who have been rejected from, or made to feel unsafe in, homeless youth shelters due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
HUD's announcement means that our federal government will no longer be complicit in this type of discrimination. It's yet another sign of President Obama's commitment to breaking down barriers to the full inclusion of LGBT people in American society. While it didn't take a report for us to know that LGBT people are a part of the fabric of America, Census data in 2000 and again in 2010 showed that LGBT people live in 99% of American counties. With decisions like this, our government is showing its commitment to protecting the right of LGBT Americans to live without fear of losing their home just because of who they are.
In the coming days, we'll use this blog to highlight what HUD's announcement means for families in communities like yours. Will your family or someone you know benefit from this ruling? Let us know your thoughts by visiting the Obama Pride Facebook page.