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GLBT Real Estate Benefits Mark Optimistic Progress with Recent Court Ruling
To practice real estate in the USA means to first go to real estate school, where much of the curriculum is devoted to studying – and learning how to abide by – Federal Fair Housing Law. The Architectural Barriers Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination Act, and half a dozen Presidential Executive Orders all provide various kinds of protection and legal rights that fall under the broad category of Fair Housing Law.
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 – the Fair Housing Act – for instance, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status. The familial coverage is extended and interpreted to include children under the age of 18 living with parents of legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18.
But nowhere in any of these important pieces of civil rights related legislation does sexual orientation come into play. That is, of course, unless you are in the dominant default demographic of heterosexuals who can get a marriage license anywhere in the country to automatically enjoy special protections, tax breaks, and ownership rights related to real estate.
Countless GLBT couples have been subjected to both overt and covert discrimination when it comes to the practice of real estate and the business of mortgage lending. Some have been told they cannot rent together. Others have been told that they cannot both put their names on a homeowner’s insurance policy. GLBT couples have been taxed at a much higher rate than married couples, for example, who almost always receive preferential treatment when filling IRS tax forms. That is especially true when it pertains to the tax advantages of real estate such as capital gains tax breaks.
Things are changing, however, and the momentum for progressive legislation is gaining power and traction thanks to a landmark decision handed down on May 15th by the California Supreme Court. The court struck down two California laws that had limited marriages to only being valid when between a man and a woman. In doing so they decided that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. The legal premise for the California decision was based in part on a court case that was settled 60 years ago and determined that interracial marriage should be legalized. Back then California again made history because it was the first state in the USA to legalize interracial marriage.
Unless the court grants a stay, the law will go into effect in time for many June brides to take full advantage of it. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement to the press that he respected the ruling and did not support a constitutional amendment to overturn it. So it is predicted that the ruling will indeed stand – and it should have a powerful proactive influence upon similar future judicial cases across the USA.
Other state high courts in New York, New Jersey and Washington ruled on same-sex marriage in recent years and their decisions were narrowly divided. That means that these states will likely be the first to reconsider the issue in the wake of the groundbreaking California change. The Connecticut Supreme Court is also expected to weigh in on same-sex marria

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