April 6, 2023
President/Chief Executive Officer
1115 San Jacinto Blvd., Ste. 200
Austin, TX 78701
Dear Mr. Kessler,
On behalf of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance’s 2023 Officers and Board of Directors, our Texas members, and with endorsement of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce® (NGLCC), which represents close to two million LGBTQ+ business owners, we are sending this letter as a formal request that Texas REALTORS® and TREPAC immediately cease funding of candidates for public office at every level who openly engage in discriminatory behavior and rhetoric against the LGBTQ+ community or other diverse groups. You may recall that last year we wrote to the National Association of REALTORS President Leslie Rouda Smith urging NAR and RPAC to follow our proposed “Article 10 Rule.” Later that same year we notified Florida REALTORS that their monetary and verbal support of then gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis was a likely violation of the REALTORS’ own governing bylaws. We have since seen several local and regional Realtor organizations including the Palm Springs and District of Columbia associations adopt the “Article 10 Rule” and others, as large as the California, Georgia and Maryland associations, are evaluating the concept and moving towards potential adoption.
The rationale for the “Article 10 Rule” is simple.
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. NAR Standard of Practice 10-5 clearly prohibits REALTORS from expressing any form of harassing speech, discriminatory or hate speech, or epithets or slurs based on the protected classes in Article 10. REALTORS and Realtor PACs which give money to candidates and campaigns are engaging in political speech, as determined by the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC. Further, NAR has stated publicly that it is in support of the Equality Act, and LGBTQ+ people. Therefore, supporting anti-LGBTQ+ Texas politicians is not only a clear violation of NAR’s own code of ethics, but it also is clearly not aligned with the national agenda and priorities of NAR.
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 the below political officials were members of the National Association of REALTORS, Texas REALTORS, or any local or regional Texas Realtor association, they would have almost certainly been sanctioned for violating Article 10 for their anti-LGBTQ+ stances. The Alliance has tracked nearly 50 recent anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the state legislature written by TREPAC-endorsed candidates. The list includes these officials who have authored and/or supported multiple discriminatory bills including:
- Bob Hall, Senate District 2
- Steve Toth, House District 15
- Shelby Slawson, House District 59
- Jared Patterson, House District106
- Donna Campbell, Senate District 25
- Valoree Swanson, House District 150
- Carl Tepper, House District 84
- Brian Harrison, House District 10
- Cole Hefner, House District 5
- Matt Shaheen, House District 66
- Charles Perry, Senate District 28
- Anglea Paxton, Senate District 8
- Greg Abbott, Governor
- Dan Patrick, Lt. Governor
- Ken Paxton, Attorney General (TX)
We simply cannot understand why Texas REALTORS appears to be another association that follows an antiquated pattern of making references to elected officials and candidates who “support our industry” in rationalizing financial support. That rationale and rhetoric is no longer valid and needs to stop. If a candidate cannot pass the “Article 10 Rule” they should be disqualified from funding and association support. Our “Article 10 Rule” is common-sense.
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 written, voted for, expressed a desire to vote for, and/or support anti-LGBTQ+ bills and rhetoric. As we have showcased above, Texas has far too many.
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. Since the start of 2022, there have been 402 anti-equality bills filed, including 124 already in 2023. You likely know that the ACLU is currently tracking a large number anti-LGBTQ+ Texas bills. and politicians like Rep. Steve Toth who proudly attach the Texas REALTORS name to this discriminatory legislation by bragging about the support TxR gives them.
It is unfathomable that while Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) 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), Texas REALTORS is choosing to support those who are blatantly dismissive of this work.
Those who receive PAC funding should be held to high standards which can no longer include discrimination or discriminatory actions.
Also, we invite you to consider that the LGBTQ+ community is growing and becoming increasingly viable in the U.S. housing market. Consider the following:
- A recent Gallup survey found that 7.2% of American adults, and 19.7% of Gen Z, now identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) believes the total number to be 8%.
- The U.S. Census recently shared that there are 1.2 million same-sex households in the United States, 710,000 were married couples and 500,000 unmarried. The total number of households is up from 550,000 in 2008.
- The Census also reports that 18% of same-sex married couples and 10.8% of unmarried same-sex couples have children.
Obviously, our growing community which is currently able to marry and have children fits the profile of a client base which bodes well for increased homeownership opportunities and Realtor business.
Here are some other important items to consider:
- 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.
- ABC News reports that 62% of Americans oppose legislation that prohibits LGBTQ+ lessons to be taught in schools.
- 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 Texas REALTORS and TREPAC 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 listed above who blatantly discriminate, including Rep. Toth who utilizes the Texas REALTORS endorsement as a sign of public support, would be a major statement to our nation and hopefully be an impetus for change and greater acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, we are asking that TREPAC adds a screening system/question to your PAC funding applications on whether or not a candidate aligns with Article 10 of the REALTORS Code of Ethics and truly embraces fair housing for all NAR protected classes, including orientation and identity. REALTORS are the ambassadors to their communities, and Texas REALTORS has the power to impact change.
We look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter.
National President & Chair of the Board
LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance
Member, Texas REALTORS
Member, Austin Board of REALTORS®
Ryan A.H. Weyandt
Chief Executive Officer
LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance
- John Thorpe –Chairman Emeritus, The Alliance
- Dave Gervase – Immediate Past President, The Alliance
- Anita Blue – 2023 President-Elect, The Alliance
- Anthony Vulin – National Vice President, The Alliance
- Tommie Wehrle – National Secretary, The Alliance
- John Lynah – National Treasurer, The Alliance
- Zaylore Stout, Esq. – Chief Legal Counsel, 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
- Tim Hur – National Board Member, The Alliance
- Austin Rowe – National Board Member, The Alliance
- Octavius Smiley-Humphries – National Board Member, The Alliance
- Monty Smith – National Board Member, The Alliance
- Feroza Syed – National Board Member, The Alliance
- Derek Lee – Chair – Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Council
- Jennifer Green – Chair – Mortgage Advisory Council, The Alliance
- Rodney Mason – Co-Chair – Mortgage Advisory Council, The Alliance
- Christopher Suranna – Chair – Policy & Advocacy Council, The Alliance
- Justin Nelson – President & CEO, National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce
- Marcus Phipps, Chairman of the Board, Texas REALTORS
- Jeffrey Conn, Chairman Elect, Texas REALTORS
- Christy Gessler, Secretary/Treasurer, Texas REALTORS
- Russell Berry, Immediate Past Chairman, Texas REALTORS
- Mike Barnett, Executive Vice President, Texas REALTORS
- Tray Bates, Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Texas REALTORS
- Brandon Alderete, Director of Political Affairs, Texas REALTORS
- Julia Parenteau, Director of Public Policy, Texas REALTORS
- Leslie Cantu, TREPAC Director, Texas REALTORS
- Andrea Friedman, TREPAC Associate Director, Texas REALTORS
- Kenny Parcell, 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®
- Kelley Robinson, President, Human Rights Campaign
- Congressman Mark Pocan, Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congressman David Cicilline, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congresswoman Becca Balint, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congresswoman Angie Craig, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congresswoman Sharice Davids, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congressman Robert Garcia, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congressman Chris Pappas, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congressman Eric Sorensen, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congressman Mark Takano, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Congressman Ritchie Torres, Co-Chair, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- Jordan Dashow, Executive Director, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus
- All local and regional Texas Realtor association leaders
- All 2023 TREPAC Trustees