WASHINGTON D.C., DC — U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and Representative Jennifer Wexton on Tuesday introduced a bill that would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the classes protected from discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to ensure equal housing opportunities for all Americans.

Under current law, The FHA prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability but not sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill, Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019, would change that.

Currently, 21 states, the District of Columbia, and over 200 localities protect sexual orientation and gender identity in their housing discrimination statutes.

“I began my career as a fair housing lawyer and I saw firsthand how housing has the power to influence families’ health, stability, economic prospects, and the futures they build. No American should be turned away from a house because of who they love, but that’s the reality many LGBTQ Americans face when they look for a home. As Fair Housing Month comes to a close, I hope my colleagues will join me in pushing to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the classes protected under the Fair Housing Act.  This is about ensuring all Americans have equal access to housing,” Kaine said.

A 2018 study of housing discrimination found that rental unit inquiries by LGBTQ couples were more likely to be ignored than couples not perceived to be LGBTQ. The study also suggests that stronger federal and state anti-discrimination laws are needed.

The Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019 is supported by the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, National Association of Realtors, National Housing Law Project, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Equality Virginia, and Human Rights Campaign.