I’m moving into a two bedroom apartment soon, upstairs in the home of a family whose church I attend. I’m looking for a house-mate to help with rent. I’m kinda particular about who I’m willing to allow in the apartment with me as house-mate: he’s gotta be a guy and he’s gotta be a Christian, he’s gotta be clean and he’s gotta be able to put up with me. Nothing to hard right?
So I post an ad titled “Christian man, nice neighborhood, good family” on a popular website and a helpful and friendly monitor sent me a message warning me that my ad violated the law, specifically the Federal Fair Housing Act. Apparently it is illegal to post an ad stating either your preference of religion or your personal religion, both these cases adding up to discrimination.
I’m a little hot under the collar over this travesty, so I make a quick check of other postings on the site and notice plenty of “Male Roommate” titles which I assumed would be discriminatory as well and therefore illegal. I quickly replied back to the monitor:
I trust you’ve notified those who are practicing sex discrimination and other religions as well.
And he patiently replied:
Nope, it’s just Christians that I hate.. heh.. Just kidding. Sorry I didn’t mean to be rude. Yeah every once in a while but very rarely I’ll see someone posting that they are looking for a Muslim roommate or whatever and sure, I’ll e-mail them and/or flag their posting too. As for sex discrimination, it’s actually legal to discriminate on the basis of sex in some rental situations where parts of the living arrangement is shared, such as the bathroom, etc… e.g. an hermaphrodite could advertise that he/she’s looking for a only male, only a female, or only an hermaphrodite roommie. But it’s not legal to discriminate on the basis of religion even in these situations.
Well anyway, sure of course everyone, including myself, discriminates on the basis of religion when they’re looking for a roommate, and I don’t have a problem with it. That seems reasonable, since religion is part of a person’s culture, and if you’re living with someone, sharing living space to some extent, then you want someone whose culture will be compatible with yours.
I guess it’s just preferable for all of us if we can keep advertisements from discriminating specifically on the basis of religion, because that sets up an environment where such discrimination is normalized by all who read the advertisement, so then in people’s minds and actions this discrimination may spill over into other types of rental arrangements, such as a regular apartment or house rental where the person renting it out is not living and socializing with the person renting it. And that really sucks… Wether you’re Christian, Muslim, athiest, wether you do have a family with kids, don’t have a family with kids, wether you’re old, young, middle-aged, there are landlords out there who will discriminate against you because of it. I got denied an apartment the other day because I own a motorcycle, and that, sadly, is legal… 😛
Which answer caused me to think about equality and discrimination again. I’ve thought about it a bit recently, but I’m still at a loss to define truly immoral discrimination versus allowable preference:
Ouch, bummer about the cycle. They thought it would be too noisy? I’d agree with them there :), But I know really nice people who like cycles. I’d like to look up info on the case history or precedents involved in the sex discrimination allowances, that would make for an interesting study.
Personally, I believe the only basis for moral discrimination is that based on changeable characteristics. Any unchangeable characteristic (sex or race, etc) cannot be a basis for any moral discrimination ie. it is immoral to discriminate based on unchangeables. There is a difference between preference and discrimination: it is not discrimination to say I prefer to date white women, both of which (white and female) are unchangeable characteristics and therefore immoral to discriminate based upon. This is merely a statement of preference within a state (activity or relationship) where preference is allowable and expected. I’m not sure how to define appropriately the difference between preference and discrimination, but there are times when comparing similar actions in two different situations, one will be preference and allowable and one will be discrimination and immoral.
Though, personal beliefs aside, being as I am a citizen of America and therefore subject to the laws of this country, I do have to abide by the laws of this land while working to change those I see as immoral.
Thanks for the heads up on this issue. I must say my second response was not sent with the nicest of intentions or needed grace, I apologize, I was wrong.
So I’m still at a loss. How do you define allowable versus immoral and wrong discrimination?