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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 for supporting controversial Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Alliance CEO Ryan Weyandt said NAR and Florida Realtors are hypocritical in their support of DeSantis, who has made headlines for deceiving asylum seekers and flying them to Martha’s Vineyard, denying pregnant people abortion access, making derogatory comments about the LGBTQ community and lambasting the use of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools.
“Florida Realtors, in endorsing DeSantis, used the same type of antiquated language that we continuously see in such RPAC-led support when they stated he is a ‘long-time supporter of the real estate industry,’” Weyandt said in a written statement. “That low benchmark can no longer be okay. If those who our industry wants to support are discriminatory, they should be disqualified from consideration.”
“It really is that simple,” he added. “If all Realtor associations took this stance, it would be a major statement to our nation and hopefully act as an impetus for change and greater acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and other groups.”
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 NAR, RPAC and local associations should hold politicians to the same standards as they did Huber and not reward discriminatory behavior.
“The National Association of Realtors (NAR), via Article 10 of the Code of Ethics, is holding its members to higher standards than those politicians who receive support,” he said. “There is no denying that if DeSantis were a member of the National Association of Realtors, Florida 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,” Weyandt added.
Florida Realtors, NAR nor RPAC have yet to respond to Inman’s request for comment; however, in response to the Alliance’s June request, RPAC President Leslie Rouda Smith and RPAC Trustees Federal Disbursements Committee Chair Patti Hill said the organization gives to politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Hill said NAR leadership has no control over federal RPAC disbursements, and RPAC is dedicated to maintaining a nonpartisan viewpoint as 2020 disbursements were 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’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.
Weyandt and Alliance president Dave Gervase said they don’t buy NAR and RPAC’s reasoning and they said the organization is willing 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 also choose to endorse those like DeSantis who publicly show they are unsupportive of this work,” Gervase said. “If Florida Realtors had employed the ‘Article 10 Test,’ there is no way DeSantis would have qualified for funding.”
“In good faith, we invited RPAC senior leader David Alan Cox to speak at our conference. But the DeSantis endorsement is a step too far,” Weyandt added.
“If NAR relinquishes its role in standing up for what’s right, then The Alliance must take steps to insulate itself and its members from the hate and vitriol that RPAC endorses through funding candidates like Ron DeSantis. Article 10 should be a uniting force for all of us.”
Read the full letter below: