City Councilor Wants To Stop Discrimination Against LGBT Home Buyers

Thursday, April 9th 2015, 11:43 pm
By: News On 6

Gay rights supporters believe dozens of Tulsans have been denied housing because of their sexual orientation, and a city councilor said it's time to take action.

City Councilor Blake Ewing introduced an ordinance amendment that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He said Tulsa is a city where people shouldn't have to live with concern on whether they'll be discriminated against.

Everyone needs a place to call home, and sometimes for members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered community, getting that need filled isn't always easy.

Executive Director of Oklahomans for Equality, Toby Jenkins, said it's not a new problem.

"It's an issue we've been dealing with for quite some time," he said.

Jenkins said in the past two years there have been nearly 30 documented cases where members of the LGBT community have been denied housing in Tulsa based on their sexual preference or identity.

He said that needs to change and Ewing agreed.

"It's sad to me that we have to declare these different classes of protected citizens against discrimination instead of just allowing human decency and common sense to prevail, but we do, because some people are jerks," Ewing said.

He's introducing a fair housing ordinance amendment which would make that kind of discrimination illegal.

Nathan Harvill with the city of Tulsa said, "I don't think it will affect anybody's life who goes about their business in a day to day sense. The people who will benefit the most is the people who have been wronged and had no recourse under city law."

Under the current federal and local fair housing ordinance it's illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, disability gender, age, ancestry or marital status.

"This will be a historic event in our community. If you can imagine the first people who asked for that forty years ago, they're now dead, they didn't live long enough to see that," Jenkins said.

The ordinance amendment will have religious exemptions. Faith-based organizations that operate under a religious banner will not be included.

Next Thursday, the city council will vote on it and are asking the public to give input.

If the council votes in favor, the amendment will be sent to the mayor's office for final approval.