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HUD Grants Equal Access




  Following last month's U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering, at which dozens of municipal chief executives announced support for the Freedom to Marry initiative, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Jan. 30 new provisions to "ensure that its core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

  HUD secretary Shaun Donovan said the Obama administration "has viewed the fight for equality on behalf of the LGBT community as a priority, and I'm proud that HUD has been a leader in that fight. ... With this historic rule, the administration is saying you cannot use taxpayer dollars to prevent Americans from choosing where they want to live on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — ensuring that HUD's housing programs are open, not to some, not to most, but to all."

  Provisions to protect LGBT communities in public housing previously only fell into the Fair Housing Act's considerations.

  The New Orleans City Council added a prohibition against gender discrimination to the city's nondiscrimination ordinances in 1997 during the administration of former Mayor Marc Morial. Those ordinances made it unlawful to discriminate for housing, among other things, based on age, race, sex and religion.

  Donovan announced the latest Equal Access to Housing rules Jan. 24 at the annual National Gay and Lesbian Task Force "Creating Change" Conference.

  Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said it's "past time for the federal government to recognize the LGBT community."

  The final ruling ("Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs — Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity") will be implemented 30 days after its publication this week. HUD also is expanding its race and gender discrimination studies (performed every 10 years) with a study on LGBT discrimination in public housing. — Alex Woodward

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