Samantha Friedman, a sociology professor at the University of Albany and lead author of the study, said that in some instances, it’s possible the lack of response could have been for reasons other than discrimination. But she called the overall numbers alarming.
“Given how easy it is for providers to respond to emails, this finding is disturbing that they’re not getting a response,” Friedman said. “This discrimination is found at the initial stage of the housing search process, which would mean that same-sex couples are being shut out of the housing process right away.”
The study found slightly more adverse treatment for same-sex couples in states with more protective discrimination laws than in states without.
HUD officials called the study a first step toward future research on same-sex housing discrimination. The agency said it plans to conduct in-person testing and conduct a closer examination of same-sex protections that have been approved in cities, towns and counties.
“This study’s results are disturbing and confirm something we’ve all suspected but didn’t have the firm data to prove — lesbian and gay couples are discriminated against when they look for places to live,” said Ian Thompson, legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU is urging Congress to amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.