The first major study on housing discrimination against same-sex couples is in, and it appears that while same-sex couples now have more rights than ever before, they may still may have trouble finding an apartment.
The study from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development involved sending e-mails to housing providers inquiring about units advertised online. The provider would receive an e-mail from each of two couples – the only difference being the couple's sexual orientation. Drawing on close to 7,000 of these paired e-mail tests in 50 cities around the U.S., the study found that “same-sex couples receive significantly fewer responses to e-mail inquiries about advertised units than heterosexual couples.”
Here's what it boils down to: You see an ad online for an apartment. You e-mail to ask if it's still available and if you can check it out. If you say you'll be joined by your partner whose name appears to belong to the same gender as yours, you are 16 percent less likely to be invited to check it out than if you say you will be joined by your (straight-sounding) husband or wife.
See how same-sex housing discrimination stacks up to other kinds of housing discrimination after the jump. For comparison's sake, same-sex couples are discriminated against slightly less than racial minorities (who we know are pretty majorly discriminated against in housing), but not by all that much. According to the study:
“The incidence of consistently favored treatment of heterosexual couples relative to gay male and lesbian couples (that is, 15.9 and 15.6 percent, respectively) is similar in magnitude to the incidence of consistently favored treatment of White homeseekers relative to Black and Hispanic homeseekers (that is, 21.6 and 25.7 percent, respectively).”
It's been a big summer for gay rights. With the court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples in many states will be able to enjoy the full recognition and protection of the law if they choose to marry. But challenges clearly remain.
We previously covered how the DOMA ruling isn't exactly good news for Texas. Texas still does not (and likely will not for a while) recognize these marriages, and thus will not extend critical protections. It's a long road ahead, here and in many other states.
The housing discrimination study serves as yet another reminder of what the LGBT community (and progressives generally) are up against. We may live in a post-DOMA world, but we are clearly not past the prejudices that DOMA was built on.