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Monday, January 30, 2012

New Federal Housing Rules Redefine "Family" To Include LGBT Folks

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 2:29 PM

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Big news on the homefront! While the official definition of marriage as a right shared only between one man and one woman still stands on the federal lawbooks, one federal department has made its official definition of family more queer-friendly.

Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it has formally rewritten its official definition of "family" that's used to determine eligibility for public housing. The official "family" already specifically includes people without kids and single people, but under today's new rules this simple sentence is added onto the official family definition: “Family includes but is not limited to the following, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status...”

HUD has been attacking housing discrimination against LGBT folks for the last few years, launching studies of discrimination and updating its policies to make it clear that it's against the rules to ban someone from public housing because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Oregon is one of 20 states with laws that already prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Asked about the HUD change two weeks ago, Portland Housing Commissioner Nick Fish said, "For a federal government that's been unable to move on marriage equality, to say that discrimination based on orientation is unacceptable is a big deal. It's a big step forward for establishing the rights of a whole class of people."

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