ALLIANCE CALLS OUT FLORIDA REALTORS AND PAC OVER DeSANTIS ENDORSEMENT AND $200k CAMPAIGN DONATION

September 14, 2022

Margy Grant
Chief Executive Officer
Florida Realtors®
7025 Augusta National Drive
Orlando, FL 32822-5017

Dear Ms. Grant,

On behalf of LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance President and Chairman Dave Gervase, our 2022 Officers and Board of Directors, our Florida members, and with endorsement of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce® (NGLCC), which represents close to two million LGBT business owners, as well as the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and the hundreds of affiliated Realtors®, I am writing to appeal to your ethical sense of duty in asking that Florida Realtors® and Florida Realtors PAC pull its endorsement of Governor Ron DeSantis.

We have a very simple rationale. He fails the “Article 10 Test.”

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR), via Article 10 of the Realtor® Code of Ethics, is holding its members to higher standards than its own member-funded RPAC and subsequent political action committees under the Realtor® banner. If Realtors® are not permitted to discriminate, Realtor® PACs should not – and cannot – be allowed to fund and support those who do. Additionally, NAR has stated publicly that it is in support of the Equality Act. Therefore, supporting anti-LGBTQ+ politicians like Mr. DeSantis is clearly not aligned with this view. As you know, Article 10 states:

REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

If Mr. DeSantis was a member of National Association of Realtors®, Florida Association Realtors® and the Tallahassee Board of Realtors® he would have been a repeat offender in violating Article 10. He would have almost certainly been sanctioned for his rhetoric against various diverse communities, including his anti-LGBTQ+ stance.

How then can you endorse him? 

Florida Realtors® is just another local, regional, and state association that follows an antiquated pattern of making references to a politician “supporting our industry” in rationalizing financial support. This needs to stop. If a candidate cannot pass the “Article 10 Test” they should be disqualified from PAC funding and association support, this is common-sense if they actively practice and preach discrimination like the Governor.

You also cite on your website that the Governor “supports the state’s affordable housing efforts, including $100 million for the Hometown Heroes program.” How can Florida Realtors® claim Mr. DeSantis is a supporter of affordable housing when he attacks those diverse groups who statistically mostly benefit from such programs?

While we value the work Realtor® PACs do to fund those who support housing issues and ancillary concerns, there are far too many who are receiving PAC funding who have voted for, expressed a desire to vote for, and/or support anti-LGBTQ+ bills and rhetoric. This includes figures like Mr. DeSantis.

The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, our partners and friends will no longer sit idly by as numerous states have instituted, are proposing, and/or working on bills that blatantly discriminate against the LBGTQ+ community. Last year was the worst in recent history for state legislation attacking the LGBTQ+ community, with 268 anti-equality bills filed. And, so far this year states have introduced almost 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills. This includes Florida.

It is unfathomable that while Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts are extremely visible in our industry (ex. 72% of our members polled believe their local real estate industry has placed an increased emphasis on DEI), Florida Realtors® is choosing to support those who are unsupportive of this work.

Those who receive PAC funding should be held to high standards which can no longer include discrimination or discriminatory actions.

Also, I invite you to consider that the LGBTQ+ community is growing and becoming increasingly viable in the U.S. housing market. Consider the following:

  1. A recent Gallup survey found that 7.1% of American adults, and 20.8% of Gen Z, now identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
  2. Zillow recently reported that 12% of all homes sold in 2021 were to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
  3. At the same time, the Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI) recently reported that 79% of all Americans favor laws that would protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing.
  4.  ABC News reports that 62% of Americans oppose legislation that prohibits LGBTQ+ lessons to be taught in schools.
  5. 64% of LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance members report that more LGBTQ+ couples become homeowners since the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage, while 42% have seen an uptick in LGBTQ+ singles purchasing homes.

While there are a variety of responses that Florida Realtors® and Florida Realtors® PAC may provide in attempting to separate housing policy and other legislative activities, the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is calling on you to take a stand and move to the forefront of societal acceptance. Pulling support from those like Mr. DeSantis who discriminate would be a major statement to our nation and hopefully be an impetus for change and greater acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. Realtors® are the ambassadors to our community, and Florida Realtors® has the power to impact change.

We look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

Ryan Weyandt                                                Dave Gervase

Chief Executive Officer                                  Chairman & National President
LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance                       LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance

Co-Signers:

  • John Thorpe – Immediate Past President & Chairman Emeritus, The Alliance
  • Erin Morrison – National President-Elect, The Alliance
  • Anita Blue – National Vice President, The Alliance
  • Tommie Wehrle – National Secretary, The Alliance
  • Rodney Mason – National Treasurer, The Alliance
  • Anthony Vulin – National Vice President-Elect
  • Tim Hur
  • Zaylore Stout, Esq. – Chief Legal Counsel, The Alliance
  • Octavius Smiley-Humphries – J.E.D.I. Chair & National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Kimberly Davis – National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Sean Frank – National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Jackie Garber – National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Tim Garvey – National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Jonathan Lovitz – National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Austin Rowe – National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Val Scinto – National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Monty Smith – National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Feroza Syed – National Board Member, The Alliance
  • Christopher Suranna – Policy & Advocacy Chair, The Alliance
  • Justin Nelson – President & CEO, National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce
  • Steven N. Adkins – President & CEO, Maimi-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
  • Keith Blackburn – President & CEO, Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce

CC:

  • Christina Pappas, President, Florida Realtors®
  • Mike McGraw, President-Elect, Florida Realtors®
  • Genessa Casanova, Sr. Political Director, Florida Realtors®
  • Leslie Rouda Smith, President, National Association of Realtors®
  • Bob Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Realtors®
  • Shannon McGhan, Chief Advocacy Officer, National Association of Realtors®
  • Katie Johnson, General Counsel & Chief Member Experience Officer, National Association of Realtors®
  • Bryan Greene, Vice President of Advocacy Policy, National Association of Realtors®
  • Charlie Dawson, Vice President of Engagement, National Association of Realtors®
  • Joni Madison, Interim President, Human Rights Campaign
  • Congressman David Cicilline, Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
  • Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, (D-FL 23rd District)
  • Jordan Dashow, Executive Director, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
  • Min Cheng, Press Secretary, U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
  • All Florida Local Realtor® Association Officer

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