First [I] want to thank you for your desire and diligence to empower Realtors to “preserve, protect, and advance the right to real property for all.” We are in regular contact with all types of people who all deserve our highest degrees of respect and service. You work very hard to help us do this.
However, I have concerns about recent steps you have taken. Though I am sure the changes made to the COE and SPSP on November 13th were intended to quell discrimination, I am concerned they will potentially foster discrimination against a particular group of Realtors. I believe these changes may put Christian Realtors in a position in which they must choose either to 1) remain silent in the public sphere about issues pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity, or 2) share their historic Christian beliefs about these issues and risk being wrongfully accused of and reported for hate speech.
I will explain my reasoning in a moment, but first I want to share the two changes to which I’m referring. The Board approved the following on November 13, 2020:
First, there is the adoption of Standard of Practice 10-5, which states:
“REALTORS® must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
Second, there are the changes made to Policy Statement 29, Applicability of the Code of Ethics to non-real estate-related activities:
“While REALTORS® are encouraged to follow the principles of the Code of Ethics in all of their activities, a REALTOR® shall be subject to disciplinary action under the Code of Ethics only with respect to real estate-related activities and transactions involving the REALTOR®.”
“A REALTOR® shall be subject to disciplinary action under the Code of Ethics with respect to all of their activities.”
Prior to November 13th, 2020, the Code of Ethics applied only to a Realtor’s real-estate related activities. It now applies to the Realtor’s entire life. This means a Realtor can now be reported to his or her association for any perceived commission of hate speech against a protected class in any sphere of his or her life, including on personal social media profiles. A claim, which can be reported by anyone, would then go before a Hearing Panel to be evaluated. If the Hearing Panel determines that the Realtor’s words are hate speech, the Realtor will be disciplined. Discipline can include the imposition of continuing education, fines as much as $15,000, termination of MLS privileges, membership suspension or termination, and more.
NAR has added a few examples of how this might play out in their Sanctioning Guidelines. Here is one:
“Example C: In social media discussions, REALTOR® C posted several discriminatory and offensive comments which were deemed to be in violation of Article 10 as they discriminated against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. In determining appropriate discipline, the Hearing Panel considered REALTOR® C’s comments as hate speech and discrimination in violation of Article 10 and had reason to believe that a violation of the public trust occurred. Based on the offensiveness of REALTOR® C’s comments and his total disregard for the Code of Ethics’ obligation to not be a party to any plan to discriminate against members of the protected classes of Article 10, the Hearing Panel recommended a $5,000 fine and mandatory completion of implicit bias training.”
NAR President Vince Malta commented publicly on the Board’s approval of these changes, saying, “Combatting and overcoming bigotry and injustice starts with each of us. Realtors® today took tangible steps to ensure we are held to the highest possible standard while providing a mechanism of enforcement for those who violate our new policies.”
To Malta’s first sentence, I give a hearty, “Amen.” And I am glad NAR is willing to take tangible steps to combat racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. Yet I am doubtful the addition of Standard of Practice 10-5 and the revision of Policy Statement 29 are the best way to do so. As public awareness of the fact that Realtors can be reported for things said and done outside of real estate increases, Realtors who express a historic Christian view of homosexual and transsexual behavior could become regular targets for undeserved allegations of hate speech. I have two reasons for believing so. Read more»
Matt Moore “An Open Letter To The National Association Of Realtors®” (December 10, 2020)
- How To Subscribe To Heidelmedia
- How to support Heidelmedia: use the donate button below
- The HB Resource Page
- Heidelmedia Resources
- Resources On Critical Theory, Political Correctness, And Free Speech
- Resources On LGBTQ And Revoice