Channeling his inner Masterpiece Cakeshop, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the embattled Republican congressman representing coastal Orange County, California, told a group of real estate agents last week that homeowners should be able to refuse to sell their houses to people because of their sexual orientation.
“Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone [if] they don’t agree with their lifestyle,” Rohrabacher said in a May 16 meeting with a delegation from the Orange County Association of Realtors, according to the Orange County Register.
Wayne Woodyard, a Realtor who attended the meeting, told Buzzfeed News that Rohrabacher’s comments came in response to a question asked about the Fair and Equal Housing Act, a bill that would ban housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Woodyard said Rohrabacher “came unglued,” and stated that he would not support the bill.
His comments cost him the support of the 1.3 million-member National Association of Realtors, which pulled its endorsement of Rohrabacher after Woodyard posted the congressman’s comments in a closed Facebook group for LGBT Realtors.
In an interview with the OC Register, Rohrabacher claimed that he opposes housing discrimination in all forms. However, he said, “There are some fundamentalist Christians who do not approve of their lifestyle. I support their rights.” He added, “We’ve drawn a line on racism, but I don’t think we should extend that line.” He also noted that his position will “alienate a certain number of gays who think I’m anti-gay, which isn’t the case.”
“Dana’s comments are disturbing and show why we need to move Orange County forward. Hatred and bigotry have no place in America,” says Harley Rouda, one of Rohrabacher’s Democratic challengers. “This can’t be excused away by a generation gap or the Congressman’s eccentricities,” said Hans Keirstead, another Democratic candidate, in a statement. Omar Siddiqui, another candidate in the crowded Democratic field, called Rohrabacher’s comments “despicable” and “immoral.”
In a statement, the National Association of Realtors announced, “After reviewing all new, relevant information, it was determined that Rep. Rohrabacher will no longer receive support from NAR’s President’s Circle… The association’s member Code of Ethics is far ahead of Congress on gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination. We certainly hope that Congress will…support the elimination of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”