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Old 10-25-2010, 11:25 AM   #1
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Woman Charged With Discrimination For Christian Roommate Ad

Christian roommate ad spurs action | WOOD TV8

Updated: Friday, 22 Oct 2010, 11:08 AM EDT
Published : Thursday, 21 Oct 2010, 5:51 PM EDT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan filed a housing discrimination charge against a Grand Rapids woman who advertised for a Christian roommate on her church bulletin board.

The 31-year-old woman's attorney, who works for the Alliance Defense Fund , said this is a blatant violation of her First Amendment right to freely associate.

But Nancy Haynes of the Fair Housing Center told 24 Hour News 8 the woman has every right to seek and live with a Christian roommate -- but advertising for it publicly, even on a church bulletin board, violates federal law.

"She can be a Christian and she can even use that as a criteria for who she wants to rent to. She just can't state that. Because to state that is a violation of the Fair Housing Act," she said. "There are certain exceptions that apply. She can actually, in practice, not rent to a non-Christian. But she can't make the statement. The statement alone is a violation of the act. What she can do in practice she can't make a statement about."

Haynes said the Fair Housing Center began investigating after someone in the congregation, who was offended, filed a complaint.

The center then filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights , and the action is administrative, not criminal. The center asks for a response to try and negotiate a settlement. If they can't, it's possible that the Michigan Department of Civil Rights would determine if a violation happened and perhaps recommend a hearing.

The Alliance Defense Fund sent a letter seeking dismissal of this complaint to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, but there has not yet been a response.

"I found (the woman and her attorney's) response very offensive. We're not punishing her for being Christian at all. If you're in the business of renting, it's a business transaction that's held to a standard under federal, state and local law."

The state wants the woman to get training in federal law, and reimburse the Fair Housing Center $300 for the time it took them to investigate.
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Old 10-25-2010, 11:33 AM   #2
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"She can be a Christian and she can even use that as a criteria for who she wants to rent to. She just can't state that. Because to state that is a violation of the Fair Housing Act," she said. "There are certain exceptions that apply. She can actually, in practice, not rent to a non-Christian. But she can't make the statement. The statement alone is a violation of the act. What she can do in practice she can't make a statement about."
i don't know how i was able to read this paragraph without suffering an aneurysm
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Old 10-25-2010, 11:50 AM   #3
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Someone has WAY TOO MUCH time on their hands.

Something doesn't make sense. Why would someone in the congregation be offended and file a complaint?
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Old 10-25-2010, 12:19 PM   #4
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I don't understand this....you see ads for "SWF/SWM" for roommates all the time in the newspaper...what's wrong with that? If I advertise in the personals for a partner and I only want a man, is that also discrimination?

I can understand why she would only want a Christian to live with - it has nothing to do with racism at all, just like I'd prefer to live with someone who is Jewish - strictly due to the dietary laws which prohibit certain foods which I couldn't have in my refrigerator (for example).

I think it's unfair that they made her pay a fine. She had every right to do what she did. It is not discrimination at all.

BVS is right, someone really does have WAY too much time on their hands.
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Old 10-25-2010, 12:38 PM   #5
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i don't know how i was able to read this paragraph without suffering an aneurysm
This.

The article doesn't say if this was a roommate for the woman's private home or if it was for someone to share an apartment. Assuming this was for her own home, I don't see where this is discrimination. Frankly, instead of her owing the Fair Housing Center $300 for their investigation, they should pay her $1000 for the harassment.
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Old 10-25-2010, 01:16 PM   #6
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it has nothing to do with racism at all,
I don't think anyone was suggesting this.
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Old 10-25-2010, 02:56 PM   #7
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well if you can sue somebody for posting about what kinda roommate you want then i'm gonna sue the shit out of a few craigslist posters...

here's looking at you, CummyPants69
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Old 10-25-2010, 04:32 PM   #8
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Something else about this story isn't adding up for me. This was printed in a church bullentin, you can print all kinds of discriminating bullshit in those things. Government doesn't have a right to say what can go in there.

I'm thinking either someone doesn't have their facts straight or this is a set up, someone trying to challenge the separation of church and state...
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:12 PM   #9
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Yes, church pastors can say all kinds of things that employers can not.

But a church can not exclude itself from State and Federal Fair Housing laws anymore than they can exclude themselves from FDA laws or building code laws.

A church school can not exclude itself from child endagermant laws.


see link from fair housing law

United States Code: Title 42,3604. Discrimination in the sale or rental of housing and other prohibited practices | LII / Legal Information Institute

Quote:
As made applicable by section 3603 of this title and except as exempted by sections 3603 (b) and 3607 of this title, it shall be unlawful—

(a) To refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin. (b) To discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.

(c) To make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination. (d) To represent to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin that any dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available.
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:18 PM   #10
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I can understand what the law is getting at - housing discrimination is bad, period. But shouldn't there be a distinction made between discrimination when simply renting a place to someone, and when advertising for a roommate? With a roommate, you're living with the person, so I think it makes sense to be able to advertise for the qualities in a person that you would be comfortable living with. Is it also illegal for a female to advertise for another female roommate, or should she have to go through the motions as though she'd be willing to rent a room to a man?
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Old 10-25-2010, 05:38 PM   #11
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These are laws I have been dealing with for about 30 years. I have a Real Estate Broker's license and own rental properties.

This whole thing is out of proportion. Her handwritten note on the church board was reported to the Fair Housing Board. They had to follow up on the complaint. Landlords 'discriminate' all the time. There are certain types of tenants I don't want. I just don't put it in print. I do put 'good credit' a must, personal references required. And then I do a face to face interview to get a feeling if I want to be in a business relationship with them, and if they want me to be their landlord.

Some questions I have, does this church have a sign that says Christians only?
What does this woman really mean, with Christians only? Would she accept a Catholic, a Mormon? I have known some free-minded (and body) born-again Christian women that liked entertaining all night. Good for me, bad for any room mates.

What if a person who attends this church passed this $600. rental on to a very decent 50 year old female friend that was agnostic. Should she be denied affordable housing?

I do get the feeling because it is 'a room' in a personal residence there should be some latitude. That one may want to discriminate.
I don't believe housing laws permit that. Is this not this really about behavior, more than identity. I would rather have a 'decent behaving' atheist, Jew, or Muslim sharing a house with me over an obnoxious person of a specific faith.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:07 PM   #12
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Her handwritten note on the church board was reported to the Fair Housing Board.
A handwritten note? Are you sure?
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:13 PM   #13
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A handwritten note? Are you sure?


I spent about 15 minutes, trying to get a little better informed





http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.a...81474978628016


I don't think it matters if it was hand-written or typed
once the complaint was filed, they had to follow up.



btw,
Once a complaint came in to a firm I was working at because we advertised a property as being 'walking distance' to the beach.
Apparently we were discriminating against wheel chair users.

All future ads read '4 houses to beach' or 'two blocks' to beach.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:27 PM   #14
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I do get the feeling because it is 'a room' in a personal residence there should be some latitude. That one may want to discriminate.
I don't believe housing laws permit that. Is this not this really about behavior, more than identity. I would rather have a 'decent behaving' atheist, Jew, or Muslim sharing a house with me over an obnoxious person of a specific faith.
I understand that, and I definitely agree, that's the way I would definitely approach it, too, if it were me.

I just think it's reasonable to think that there are deal-breakers when it comes to choosing someone who will be living in such close proximity with you, and if religion is a deal-breaker for that woman, then she should be allowed that. I find it surprising and really odd that there aren't allowances made for roommate situations. Again, what about the case where a woman needs a roommate but doesn't feel comfortable living with a man?

But again, I feel that it's an entirely different matter when you're renting a separate residence.


Eta -

Quote:
Originally Posted by deep View Post

btw,
Once a complaint came in to a firm I was working at because we advertised a property as being 'walking distance' to the beach.
Apparently we were discriminated against wheel chair users.

All future ads read '4 houses to beach' or 'two blocks' to beach.
Unreal.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:28 PM   #15
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I don't think it matters if it was hand-written or typed
once the complaint was filed, they had to follow up.
Well my thought was how do they prove she wrote it, or added that part?

I get that they had to follow up, I hope common sense prevails and understands the difference when looking for a roommate rather than a tenant.

I really have to wonder about the person that filed the complaint.
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