In another nod to gays, feds tackling housing bias
In the latest example of the Obama administration extending greater rights to gays and lesbians, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is making changes to ensure they don't face discrimination when applying for federal housing assistance.
The department unveiled a series of proposed rule changes Thursday that would prohibit lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a way of determining a borrower's eligibility. In a nod to same-sex marriages and same-sex parents, the rule change would state that eligible families have the opportunity to participate in HUD-based programs regardless of marital status or sexual orientation.
The new rules, if adopted, also would prohibit owners and operators of HUD-funded housing from asking applicants or occupants of the housing about sexual orientation or gender identity.
HUD is conducting a national study on the potential impact of housing discrimination against gays and lesbians, but in its formal notice of the proposed rules cited a 2007 study of housing discrimination in Michigan that found disparate treatment of gays in 32 out of 120 fair housing tests conducted.
"This is a fundamental issue of fairness," HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said Thursday.
The proposed rules must undergo a 60-day public comment period before formal implemented. If approved, they would joint a growing list of policy and procedural changes made by federal agencies that don't require congressional approval, including gender-neutral passport application forms, changes to how the U.S. Census Bureau counts same-sex relationships and the extension of fringe benefits to the same-sex partners of gay and lesbian federal workers.
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• Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama shifts most of his political staff to Chicago. White House Deputy Political Director Patrick Dillon also leaving. At least five people have interviewed to replace Robert Gibbs. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan reports for jury duty. First Lady Michelle Obama recruits Wal-Mart to join her healthy foods push. White House regulatory lawyer Cass Sunstein summoned to Capitol Hill. Architects of the Gulf War reunite in Texas. Rahm Emanuel nets $10.6 million for his Chicago mayoral race.
• Hundreds of Yankton, South Dakota birds poisoned by USDA: A local farmer had been having troubles with about 5,000 starlings defecating in his feed meal. USDA decided to kill the birds due to health concerns for the animals.
• Amtrak e-mail misuse alleged in IG scandal: Its investigative officer is asking the U.S. Postal Service to look into whether officials misused the e-mail system by searching for communiques between his office and Congress.
U.S. COMMISSION OF FINE ARTS:
• Frank Gehry refines his Eisenhower Memorial design: The architect made an official presentation to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, one of the oversight panels that must approve his designs for a new memorial to the former president and general.
• Report: 'Don't ask, don't tell' cost military $193.3M over five years: The military spent about $193.3 million between 2004 and 2009 to replace approximately 3,660 troops discharged under the policy.
• Some mentors quit over new Pentagon rules: Seven retired admirals and generals hired by the military as consultants will end their advisory roles rather than comply with new regulations requiring them to divulge outside income to avoid a conflict of interest.
• EPA loses in bid to delay air rules: The ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman is a setback for the White House, which is trying to demonstrate to business leaders that it is prepared to moderate the pace of new regulation.
• FAA tightens rules for charter pilots: It issued a final rule requiring pilots of such planes to receive specialized training to work more effectively as cockpit teams.
• FDA sees promise in Alzheimer's imaging drug: The approval was contingent on radiologists agreeing on what the scans say and doctors being trained in how to read the scans.
• Largest-ever mafia sweep nets more than 100 arrests: Federal and state agents began arresting nearly 130 reputed mafia members from seven East Coast organized crime families in the largest coordinated arrest in the FBI's quarter-century crackdown on La Cosa Nostra.
| January 21, 2011; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Administration, Eye Opener
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