Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
Also: unmarried couples and poor families.
The federal Fair Housing Act was passed 45 years ago today, and in the two generations since then, the law has expanded to make it illegal to refuse to rent or sell a home to someone (or to skew the terms of their lease) because of race, religion, national origin, sex, family status or disability. That list is pretty sweeping, but it's still missing a few groups whose absence grows more glaring by the year.
Federal laws don't protect against housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, income source or marital status (whether or not you're married is a different question from if you have kids). Many states do this on their own. But a surprising number don't. Today, it's still possible for a landlord in Texas to refuse to rent you an apartment with your live-in girlfriend (married couples only!), for a property management company in Alabama to turn you away because you're gay or transgendered, or for a homeowner in Indiana to decline your application because your income (which is enough to cover your rent) comes from housing vouchers, child support or alimony.
And we haven't even gotten to the question yet of whether or not you can rent a home with your same-sex wife.
In advocating for these expanded protections, the National Fair Housing Alliance released a report today on "Modernizing the Fair Housing Act for the 21st Century," from which these maps come. Across the U.S., protections for each of these groups appear to be the exception, not the rule: