The Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that Bank of America has settled a discrimination claim filed by a Florida lesbian couple denied a mortgage because they're not legally married, something they can't do in Florida.
This is the first time HUD's new rules prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, particularly those who are unable to get married.
Details about the claim from HUD:
HUD claimed BOA denied a loan to a Florida couple seeking to obtain an FHA-insured mortgage because of their sexual orientation and marital status. Because one partner was not employed, the applicant enlisted her partner’s mother as a co-applicant on the loan. The couple worked with BOA for several weeks to provide all of the necessary loan application documents and the couple was assured by BOA that they were likely to receive a mortgage.
One business day prior to closing, BOA denied the mortgage because it did not consider the loan applicant and the co-applicant directly related because the applicant and her partner were not married. As a result of BOA’s actions, the couple was not able to close on the loan.
BOA will pay HUD $7,500 for its violation and has agreed to inform all mortgage agents of the new rules.
HUD General Counsel Helen Kanovsky said the "agreement demonstrates that HUD will vigorously enforce its Equal Access rule and pursue lenders that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status."
She went on, "By the same token, BOA should be commended for stepping up and taking immediate corrective action after HUD notified BOA of the violation."
Democrats and Republicans performed a seemingly impossible feat by striking a deal to prevent the United States from plunging off the fiscal cliff of their creation this week. Well, for now.
From CBS News:
Ultimately, yesterday's "fiscal cliff" deal didn't address the issue at all. In the remarks he gave after the House passed the deal, Mr. Obama once again warned against a debt ceiling fight: "I will not have another debate with this Congress about whether they should pay the bills that they've already racked up through the laws that they passed," he said. "We can't not pay bills that we've already incurred."
Around the same time Washington will hit its debt limit, the "continuing resolution" by which Congress is funding the federal government will expire. Since Congress has been too dysfunctional to pass a real budget, it passed short-term "continuing resolutions" to keep the government running. The current resolution is set to expire on March 27, leaving open the threat of a government shutdown.
AFTER THE JUMP, watch President Obama discuss how this stop-gap plan will help the unemployed, impact middle class taxes and what it means for wealthier Americans not being asked to pay a fairer share.
Gay blogger Andrew Sullivan announced today that he and his executive editorial team, Patrick Appel and Chris Bodenner, are leaving their virtual home at Newsweek-owned The Daily Beast to set up shop as a pay site with no ads, a move they say will help them get back to their online grassroots.
From Sullivan's announcement:
...As we contemplated the end of our contract with the Beast at the end of 2012, we faced a decision... As we debated and discussed that unknowable future, we felt more and more that getting readers to pay a small amount for content was the only truly solid future for online journalism. And since the Dish has, from its beginnings, attempted to pioneer exactly such a solid future for web journalism, we also felt we almost had a duty to try and see if we could help break some new ground.
The only completely clear and transparent way to do this, we concluded, was to become totally independent of other media entities and rely entirely on you for our salaries, health insurance, and legal, technological and accounting expenses.
As of February 1, we will revert to our old URL - www.andrewsullivan.com... Here's the core principle: we want to create a place where readers - and readers alone - sustain the site. No bigger media companies will be subsidizing us; no venture capital will be sought to cushion our transition (unless my savings count as venture capital); and, most critically, no advertising will be getting in the way.
The cost will be $19.99 a year, which works out to about a nickel a day. Whether or not you think that is a fair price probably depends on how much you value Sullivan and his team's opinions. If you ask me, that's actually a pretty good deal.
In the meantime, The team's work will still be accessible at The Daily Beast until their new site officially launches next month.
Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster who described marriage equality proposals as "Orwellian," wielded his powers like a tyrant and shut down a long-running mass for LGBT Catholics in London.
From The Guardian:
The Archbishop of Westminster, head of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, has ordered that special fortnightly "Soho masses" for gay and lesbian churchgoers in central London are not appropriate and are to be axed.
The services, intended to be particularly welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, had been held at Our Lady of the Assumption church in the West End for six years with the blessing of senior clergy but had attracted criticism from traditionalists.
The cancellation by Archbishop Vincent Nichols will be seen as a victory for those who lobbied for an end to what they see as an affront to church teachings.
Though he has ended the special, lavender-colored mass, Nichols will allow the church to continue offering "pastoral care" for gay and lesbian congregants.
Nigeria's House of Representatives is currently reviewing a Senate-approved law that would expand laws against homosexuality there to include not only a ban on same-sex marriage, but also one on any LGBT gathering, including night clubs. As the law is debated in corridors of power as well as on Nigeria's streets, BBC News traveled to an underground gay club in Lagos, Nigeria's capital, to get a sense of what it's like to be gay in the African country.
From that report:
"A friend invited me here a few months ago," one chatty spectator says excitedly. "I love this place because it makes me feel at home."
This gathering of members of the gay and lesbian community in Lagos is held regularly, albeit discreetly, but it could soon be illegal.
The vast majority of gay Nigerians may not be interested in this kind of event but they still have to hide their sexuality in this conservative society.
Despite the jovial atmosphere, there is heightened caution, and no-one is allowed to take any photos.
The thought of being identified as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in a country where the public still turns to mob justice haunts some here.
And that is a huge concern for Richard (not his real name): "If you don't become discreet and try to hide yourself, even the man on the street will want to also act on the bill because it has been passed."
"If you're walking on the street and he stones you, he knows the law would stand for him because the law is against you."
A number of foreign nations have condemned the potential Nigerian law, but proponents are using this international opposition to bolster their argument: homosexuality is a colonial creation being imported from abroad. Opponents, meanwhile, insist laws against sodomy and gay people are the real colonial remnants.
Finally, some good news for a gay person in Uganda: it was announced today that the case against David Cecil, the British producer arrested for putting up a gay-themed play, has been dismissed.
A win for freedom in Uganda! A case against a British script producer, David Cecil (accused of staging a "homosexual play" - The Mountain and the River - and disobeying "lawful" orders) has been dismissed for lack of evidence by the Magistrates Court at Makindye. We can now sue the State for the malicious prosecution.
This is the type of work I’m willing to do for the rest of my life. No man should be arrested, detained, charged and imprisoned arbitrarily for expressing himself.
Rights and Freedoms are inherent and not granted by cultural and religious beliefs/institutions, families, parents, the Government or the State.
The play The Mountain and The River is about a gay man whose mother tries to "turn" him straight, something that's no doubt a topic of interest for those brave enough to come out to their families in the overwhelmingly anti-gay country.