Republican congressman says it’s fine to refuse to sell houses to gay people
A Republican lawmaker has incurred a backlash after saying it’s fine to refuse to sell a house to LGBT customers.
Dana Rohrabacher, a 15-term Californian congressman, told a group of realtors that homeowners should be able to reject anyone they want – so the association pulled its support of him.
The lawmaker told an Orange County Association of Realtors delegation: “Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone (if) they don’t agree with their lifestyle.”
Speaking to the Orange County Register, he confirmed he held this belief, saying that property owners should be able to “choose who they do business with.”
He then insisted that LGBT people shouldn’t have as many rights as other minorities, saying: “We’ve drawn a line on racism, but I don’t think we should extend that line.
“A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”
Rohrabacher worked as a speechwriter and special assistant to President Ronald Reagan for almost his entire presidency.
He took his place in the House of Representatives in January 1989, just before Reagan left office – and has been there ever since.
But ahead of November’s mid-term elections, his seat is rated as a toss-up.
His remarks provoked outrage from many in the National Association of Realtors, which withdrew its recommendation that members donate to his campaign.
In a statement, the group of 1.3 million members said: “It was determined that Rep. Rohrabacher will no longer receive support from NAR’s President’s Circle.”
It explained that Rohrabacher had violated the association’s moral code, which does not allow discrimination because of people’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We certainly hope that Congress will… support the elimination of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” it added.
In response, the politician admitted that ahead of June’s Republican primary, “it certainly can’t do me any good to have people take me off their endorsement list.
“It’s sad to see (the association’s) priority is standing in solidarity with making sure a stamp of approval is put on somebody’s private lifestyle.”
One of those competing to unseat him on the Democrats’ side, Harley Rouda, said that Rohrabacher’s comments were “outlandish and unacceptable.
He added: “What Dana Rohrabacher fails to understand is discrimination is discrimination. It shows how backward his thinking is.”
Rohrabacher has denied that he is homophobic, saying his position may “alienate a certain number of gays who think I’m anti-gay, which isn’t the case.”
The lawmaker, who has voted in the past to ban gay adoptions and same-sex marriage, and to define marriage as being between one man and one woman, has praised Russia’s discriminatory practices against LGBT people.
In 2015, he sent a tweet agreeing with a conspiracy theorist who said “Marxists” were “OPENLY revising America’s traditions and history.”
Rohrabacher said that this was “absolutely right,” before heaping praise on Putin’s opposition to equality for LGBT people and women in general.
“Interesting this is happening here when in Russia Putin opened churches, opposes abortion & gay marriage,” wrote the US congressman.
Rohrabacher is far from the first Republican to attract a backlash for his behaviour over the past year.
Last year, Ohio congressman Wes Goodman – a married Republican lawmaker with a long history of campaigning against LGBT rights – resigned after being caught having gay sex in his office.
Republican Ralph Shortey, a senior member of Donald Trump’s primary campaign team in Oklahoma, stepped down as state senator last March after being discovered in a hotel room with a 17-year-old boy who Shortey hired as a prostitute.
Later in the year, he pleaded guilty to a child sex trafficking offence for soliciting sex from the boy.
In exchange for this plea, federal prosecutors dropped three counts of child pornography against the former politician.
And in March, it was revealed that Erika Harold, a Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General, allegedly said she would rather hand over a child to known child abusers than a loving gay couple.