Civil unions no issue for local renters

Megan Healy

Gay renters or property owners are protected from discrimination under Illinois State law as of June, but DeKalb municipal code has included this protection since December 2003.

Donald Henderson, director of Student Legal Assistance, said there have not been many cases in which gay-specific discrimination has happened to renters, but if such an instance would occur, it would most likely be discrete.

PRISM club advisor Suzanne Willis said she has not seen much housing discrimination either.

“We have not had any major issues but there are always isolated issues,” she said. “Problems don’t usually occur with student housing, rather work issues [occur].”

In June, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into effect the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, giving more rights and protection to gays.

This legislation allows gay couples to obtain some of the same privileges that straight couples have in a marriage.

It also mandates the same housing and economic responsibilities a heterosexual couple would endure if they were married, such as equal obligations to mortgages, rent and other bills.

The city of DeKalb has a municipal code that does not permit gay discrimination with other types of discrimination in relation to housing sectors.

This code of conduct, found under chapter 49 of the Human Relations Commission, was in place long before June when the entire state had to get on board with civil unions, Henderson said. This code was last updated in December 2003 to include “sexual orientation.”

Being a partner in a civil union or just being gay can’t affect one’s eligibility to rent or own property according to Humanrightscampaign.org.

“This appears to be just another part of our society that fortunately is becoming widely accepted by the public”, said DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen.

According to Illinoislegalaid.org there are exemptions to the rules regarding different forms of discrimination. Exemptions from the rule of who can lawfully be rejected from renting at the landlord’s discretion include occasions when a landlord lives on the premises of the property they rent, if there are less than four apartments in the unit or if the building is strictly for elders or a family with children desires to move into the building.

These are cases in which a form discrimination may take place lawfully, although these laws may differ between municipalities.