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The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance has called out the National Association of Realtors and its Realtor Political Action Committee for the second time in three months, this time over support for controversial Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Alliance CEO Ryan Weyandt said NAR and Florida Realtors were hypocritical in their support of DeSantis, which made headlines for deceiving asylum seekers and flying them to Martha’s Vineyard, denying pregnant people access to abortions, making derogatory comments about LGBTQ community and berated its use Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools.
“Florida Realtors used the same kind of antiquated language in supporting DeSantis that we consistently see in such RPAC-led support when they stated he was a ‘longtime supporter of the real estate industry,'” Weyandt said in a written statement. “This low benchmark can no longer be okay. If those our industry wants to support are discriminatory, they should be excluded from consideration.”
“It really is that simple,” he added. “If all brokerage associations took this stance, it would be an important statement to our nation and hopefully would act as an impetus for change and greater acceptance by the LGBTQ+ community and other groups.”
Weyandt called on NAR and RPAC to begin applying the Article 10 Code of Ethics rule when evaluating political candidates — if they have said or done anything discriminatory for which a broker would be penalized under Article 10, they should not receive funding.
The Article 10 rule has been around for decades, which, according to a previous Inman article, “prohibits the denial of equal professional services to anyone in these protected classes.”
However, NAR strengthened the article with the passage of its Standard of Practice 10-5 in November 2020. The Standard of Practice 10-5, also known as the Hate Speech Provision, cracks down on racist and anti-discriminatory speech and behavior and applies to all real estate agents’ activities – not just what they do on the job.
Determination has been the focus of several national stories, most notably the case of Missoula, Montana, pastor and (now former) real estate agent Brandon Huber. Huber was charged with violating Article 10 in August 2021 after releasing his church’s support for the Missoula Food Bank over the bank’s decision to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month and alleged anti-LGBTQ statements.
Huber sued NAR and the Montana Organization of Realtors for religious discrimination, a lawsuit that failed in Missoula District Court. MOR’s ethics committee eventually found Huber guilty of violating Article 10 but said he could retain membership after paying a $5,000 fine and completing awareness training.
Huber declined and instead decided to end his real estate career.
Weyandt said NAR, RPAC and local associations should hold politicians to the same standards as Huber and not reward discriminatory behavior.
“The National Association of Realtors (NAR) holds its members to higher standards than the politicians who receive endorsements under Article 10 of the Code of Ethics,” he said. “There is no denying that if DeSantis had been a member of the National Association of Realtors, Florida Realtors and the Tallahassee Board of Realtors, he would have been a repeat offender in Article 10 violation.”
“He would almost certainly have been sanctioned for his rhetoric against various communities, including his anti-LGBTQ+ stance,” Weyandt added.
Florida Realtors, NAR and RPAC are yet to respond to Inman’s request for comment; However, in response to the alliance’s June request, RPAC President Leslie Rouda Smith and Patti Hill, chair of the RPAC Trustees Federal Disbursement Committee, said the organization is giving money to politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Hill said the NAR leadership has no control over federal RPAC payouts, and RPAC strives to maintain an impartial stance because 2020 payouts are almost evenly split between Republicans (49 percent) and Democrats (51 percent). .
“The National RPAC is a separate entity governed by its trustees and independent of NAR,” she said in June. “No member of NAR leadership, including the elected leadership team and the CEO, has authority or influence over federal RPAC payouts.”
“These decisions are managed locally and rest solely with the national RPAC Trustees… Under the Realtor Party model, our success derives from the issues, not a single political party. When the force shifts, as it always will, we have champions on both sides of the aisle,” added Hill.
Weyandt and Alliance President Dave Gervase said they do not believe NAR and RPAC’s reasoning and that the organization is prepared to sever its relationship with NAR.
“While NAR, Florida Realtors, and so many other realtor associations say they are focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, too many choose to support even those like DeSantis who publicly show they do this work don’t support it,” said Gervase. “If Florida Realtors had performed the ‘Article 10 test,’ there is no way DeSantis would have qualified for financing.”
“In good faith we have invited RPAC Senior Leader David Alan Cox to speak at our conference. But DeSantis’ confirmation goes a step too far,” Weyandt added.
“If NAR relinquishes its role of standing up for what is right, then The Alliance must take steps to protect itself and its members from the hate and malevolence that RPAC supports by funding candidates like Ron DeSantis. Article 10 should be a unifying force for us all.”
Read the full letter below:
Email Marian McPherson