A HOUSE DIVIDED

Bank Of America Fined $7,500 For Denying Lesbian Couple Mortgage Loan

boaThe US Department of Housing and Urban Development has fined Bank of America $7,500 after it refused a loan to a lesbian couple for not being legally married.

The agreement is the first enforcement action taken against a lender involving HUD’s recent “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” rule, which ensures that “the Department’s core housing programs be open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.”

According to Gay Star  News, Bank of America employees had initially told the couple they would qualify for a government-backed loan if it was signed for by one of the women and her partner’s mother. But on the day they were to make it all official, the bank pulled out, claiming it could not consider the signers to be legally related because the couple was not married.

“This agreement demonstrates that HUD will vigorously enforce its ‘Equal Access’ rule and pursue lenders that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status,” said Helen Kanovsky, HUD’s General Counsel.  “By the same token, BOA should be commended for stepping up and taking immediate corrective action after HUD notified BOA of the violation.”

John Trasviña, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, added, “The HUD Equal Access Rule means just what it says:  one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status is not a legitimate basis on which to deny a mortgage. Members of the housing industry should take note of this settlement agreement.  HUD will enforce its regulations to make sure its programs are truly open to all qualified families.”