Six months after challenging the National Association of Realtors, Florida Realtors and the Realtor Political Action Committee for backing political candidates who support discriminatory legislation, the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is taking the fight to the Association’s Texas chapter.
“There are far too many elected officials in Texas who are blatantly discriminatory including several state Senators and Representatives, Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton who have authored or supported multiple discriminatory bills against the LGBTQ+ community,” Alliance CEO Ryan Weyandt said in a prepared statement. “If these officials were Realtors, they would have almost certainly been sanctioned for violating Article 10 of the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics.”
“Texas Realtors is therefore holding its members to a higher standard than those politicians TREPAC supports,” he added. “We are asking all Realtor associations around the nation, including Texas Realtors to recognize that those who discriminate should not receive funding even if they support legislation favorable to our industry. Article 10 should be a uniting force for all of us. It is a common sense consideration.”
Weyandt urged NAR and RPAC to begin using the Article 10 Code of Ethics rule in evaluating political candidates — if they’ve said or done something discriminatory that a Realtor would be punished for under Article 10, then they shouldn’t receive funding. The Article 10 Rule has been around for decades, which according to a previous Inman article, “prohibits denying equal professional services to anyone in those protected classes.”
However, NAR strengthened the Article with the passage of its Standard of Practice 10-5 in November 2020. Also known as the hate speech provision, Standard of Practice 10-5 cracks down on racist and anti-discriminatory speech and behavior and applies to all Realtors’ activities — not just what they do on the job.
The provision has been at the center of several national stories, most notably the case of Missoula, Montana, pastor and (now former) Realtor Brandon Huber. Huber was accused of violating Article 10 in August 2021, after pulling his church’s support of the Missoula Food Bank due to the bank’s decision to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month and allegedly making anti-LGBTQ statements.
Huber sued NAR and the Montana Organization of Realtors for religious discrimination — a claim that fell flat in the Missoula District Court. MOR’s Board of Ethics eventually found Huber guilty of violating Article 10 but said he could retain membership after paying a $5,000 fine and completing sensitivity training. Huber declined and instead decided to end his real estate career.
Weyandt said Abbott, Patrick and Paxton and 12 other Texas state legislators would find themselves in a similar situation as Huber if they were Realtors.
There are currently five proposed bills in Texas that would revoke transgender youth’s access to transition-related healthcare, prohibit classroom curricula about sexual orientation and gender identity and ban transgender athletes’ participation in collegiate sports, among other restrictions. There is only one bill aimed at strengthening LGBTQ+ rights, according to The Texas Tribune’s bill tracker.
Over the past two years, U.S. legislators have proposed 526 bills aimed at curbing LGBTQ rights and transgender healthcare access and eliminating educational curriculum that aligns with Critical Race Theory (CRT).
“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,” he said in a five-page letter addressed to Texas Realtors President and CEO Travis Kessler. “That rationale and rhetoric is no longer valid and needs to stop.”
Kessler and Texas Realtors were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
However, former RPAC President Leslie Rouda Smith and former RPAC Trustees Federal Disbursements Committee Chair Patti Hill told Inman in June 2022 that RPAC and its state subsidiaries are bipartisan and will continue to support legislators on both sides of the aisle, with disbursements almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
“The National RPAC is a separate entity governed by its Trustees and independent of NAR,” Hill told Inman in response to the Alliance’s first campaign to convince NAR and RPAC to stop backing anti-LGBTQ candidates. “No member of NAR’s leadership, including the elected leadership team and the CEO, has any authority or input over federal RPAC disbursements.”
“Those decisions are locally-led and reside solely with national RPAC’s Trustees… Under the Realtor Party model, our success derives from the issues, not a single political party. When power changes, as it always will, we have champions on both sides of the aisle,” Hill added.
LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance President and Texas Realtors member Erin Morrison echoed Weyandt’s sentiments and pointed to the small yet growing number of local and state associations that have adopted the Alliance’s Article 10 Rule, including Washington Realtors, DC Association of Realtors and Greater Palm Springs Realtors
“It is difficult to watch my state lead the nation in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and rhetoric while Texas Realtors not only refrains from utilizing its powerful voice to stop it but seemingly fueling it with support of numerous discriminatory officials,” Morrison said in a written statement. “Realtors, including me, are not permitted to discriminate. So how can those who receive funds from Texas Realtors be able to?”
“While these officials may support the real estate industry or fair housing, at the same time they are a detriment to minority classes,” she added. “It is time for Texas Realtors and other Realtor groups around the nation to recognize they are aiding and abetting discrimination with their funding.”