Friday, April 04, 2008

Govt. says you can't decide who you live with.

Living with another person always requires intimacy -- even if the other person is just a friend. It is almost the equivalent of a marriage but normally without the sexual/romantic element. Now the government says that when you are looking to share a home with someone you have no right to ask their sexual orientation. was a service to help individuals find others with whom they could share a home. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says asking the sexual orientation of the potential roommate violates anti-discrimination laws.

Apparently a gay individual wishing to share with another gay person is violating the law. Apparently they would be violating the “rights” of any straight person who inquires about the premises. This is politicians overriding the private, voluntary wishes of millions of people.

Many gay individuals have had bad experiences of harassment yet, if they wish to make sure they are living in an atmosphere where they feel safe and comfortable, they are not allowed to ask the potential roommate if they too are gay. In fact they would not be allowed to advertise for gay roommates. In the name of some vaunted theory of “equality” the politicians force millions of people into wasting hours of their time.

How do they do this? First, people will do their best to only share living quarters when they feel comfortable with the other person. So the ad may not mention sexual orientation but people will find other ways of asking. Some will just ask and most will get away with violating the law. Some will look for hints. If a gay landlord is looking for a gay tenant he can advertise for roommates in a gay publication where it is unlikely to be read by straights. But people will spend time going to interviews where they will be rejected. If the two individuals could have clarified things right at the start they would save lots of time and money.

Government regulations in this area only forces inefficiencies on millions of people. And it doesn’t do anything to make people better off. Don’t blame the courts here. They are enforcing the law but the law is an ass. The asses in question here are the misnamed “Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley” and the “Fair Housing Council of San Diego.”

What is fair about trying to force people to live together who will be unhappy doing so?

Even if we accept the logic of most “fair housing” laws those laws tend to apply to selling housing to others--not living with them. If you can’t discriminate about who it is that you live with you have lost a large measure of control over your life.

There is no fairness in coercing people to share homes who don’t want to. It is tyranny instead.

The people most likely to suffer from this will be sexual minorities. Straights wanting to share with straights will find it easy. Most their applicants will be straight and they can play the odds. But gay roommates will be the ones who have the hardest time finding others and they will be forbidden from asking. There is a reason you won't hear of roommate services for heterosexuals only while services such as this one exist for gays only. These laws harm some of the very people that the government says they are trying to protect.