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Quigley confronts Carson over discrimination against LGBTQ+ Americans

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Washington, D.C. — Today, during a hearing on HUD's Fiscal Year 2021 budget request, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley ( IL-05 ), a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, confronted Housing and Urban Development ( HUD ) Secretary Ben Carson over his Department's continued discrimination against LGBTQ+ Americans. Quigley's two exchanges with Carson focused on his department's continued failure to protect LGBTQ+ individuals who seek emergency housing in places like shelters and who face undue discrimination in seeking all forms of housing. This was the third year in a row where Carson was unable to provide adequate reasoning for his Department's failure to produce LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination guidance documents or uphold HUD's existing Equal Access Rule. Under Quigley's questioning, Carson claimed that enforcing non-discrimination policies affords vulnerable and minority populations with "extra rights."

Quigley has relentlessly pursued this issue since the Department removed guidance their website in early 2017. Carslon formally declined to reinstate the guidance on March 6, 2019. This followed Quigley's previous questioning of Carsonin 2018 and Carson's visit to Chicago to meet with LGBTQ+ advocates.

Video of Quigley's first round of questions for Carson is available here and a transcript is provided below. His second round of questions is also included below.

QUIGLEY: I just feel obliged, Ms. Clark referenced the non-discrimination guidance for LGBT individuals under the Equal Access Rule. We've been talking about this for some time. Where we left it last year, you are not going to replace the guidance that instructs providers how to do this. I want to paraphrase, and I want to make sure I get it roughly right. You said, "I wouldn't like the guidance you put up." I believe presumably because in my mind it would allow or promote discrimination against LGBTQ, particularly the Trans community. It's still not up. How does the program operate? How does the law that requires equal access work without guidance?

CARSON: Appropriate guidance is going to be put up. It's being worked on, but the reason that I said ...

QUIGLEY: Just for reference, that's the third year in a row you've said that sir.

CARSON: The reason that I said that, the reason why I said that you probably wouldn't like it is because from what you've said in the past, you don't agree with my statement that everybody gets equal rights but nobody gets extra rights.

QUIGLEY: Who gets special rights in non-discrimination?

CARSON: Well, let's put it this way.

QUIGLEY: Implying that someone's trans, they have to get special rights just to use the shelter?

CARSON: I can tell you the answer. When you have a single sex shelter and it's there specifically for women who are abused and then people come in who do not appear to be women but they say they're women and you have to accept them, does that impinge upon the rights of those women? We have a lot of documentation from those women that said that it does impinge upon heir rights. So, if you can give me, and I said this when I came to Chicago and spoke with your group, which I enjoyed being with them. I thought they were great people, but I said this, if you can show me how you take care of that individual, and only thing you wanna do is go on the basis of what they say their gender is, you can show me how to be fair to them and at the same time be fair to those women who are saying they are very uncomfortable with that. I am all ears.

QUIGLEY: You're the only person I have ever heard bring up that issue. And in 3 years, first of all, in 3 years we don't have the guidance, which belies any credibility you have that, respectfully, that is ever going to happen. That means in 3 years the protections haven't been in place. You have never documented what you just talked about. I can't even begin to imagine how people feel. So, you're telling the trans community that because of how you perceive how some people react to them, it's okay to discriminate against them?

CARSON: I have lots of letters from women's groups. It's not just how I perceive it.

QUIGLEY: So, let's just assume for a second that there is some people out there who object to this. You're saying that because some people think it's okay to discriminate, that you have to go along with that too, despite the law?

CARSON: That's not what I'm saying at all.

QUIGLEY: But you're saying that if someone doesn't like someone else in that shelter for whatever reasons, that you can allow discrimination against those people?

CARSON: What I'm saying is we have to take everybody's feelings into consideration. You can't just select a group and say that there feelings trump everyone else's groups.

QUIGLEY: It goes back to the basics. There have always been people who discriminate against others. What you're saying is those people have the right to do that and therefore the federal government can back up that right to discriminate? And let's understand what the alternative is, these are people who are gonna be on the streets. This discrimination that you're hearing about,

is this based on, what? Their notion of what their faith tells them is okay, to hate other people?

CARSON: I want everybody to be taken care of and I suggest that ...

QUIGLEY: But there not if they're not being allowed to participate because somebody else thinks it's okay to discriminate.

CARSON: I've suggested that there are ways to do that.

QUIGLEY: And you're telling the trans community that they can't make a decision as to what they are. They are not best suited to say ..

CARSON: I'm saying that no one's rights get to obliterate everybody else's rights.

QUIGLEY: You're pretty well obliterated when you're on the street and you're not allowed to be in the facility. That's the fundamental right that's being taken care of, not your notion that someone else feels it's okay to discriminate.

CARSON: Can you do this for me? Can you, because I know you're passionate about this issue, can you come up ...

QUIGLEY: Not as passionate about the people on the street

CARSON: Can you come up with a way that is fair to all the different groups that are involved?

QUIGLEY: Yes, there's no discrimination. You can't discriminate because there are some people who you tell us, say they don't like other people because of the way they look?

CARSON: We agree on that. I'm still asking you to come up ..

QUIGLEY: First of all, I want to make clear, we don't agree on any of that.

CARSON: I'm asking you to come up with a solution that takes into consideration

QUIGLEY: The law says you can't discriminate, that's my solution.

Video of Quigley's second round of questions for Carson is available here and a transcript is provided below.

QUIGLEY: Same theme, but different topic. I'm looking at two studies that are analyzing the data collected by Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and they found widespread discrimination again against same sex couples in the mortgage industry. One of the studies specifically examined loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration and HUD, and found that gay male couples, especially those including a person of color were significantly less likely to have their loans approved than white heterosexual couples with similar profiles. What is your department doing to address discrimination against LGBTQ people, especially people of color in the mortgage industry?

CARSON: You know, we get about eight thousand complaints a year, discrimination against one of the protected classes. We have not received a lot of, in that particular category. Obviously, I would detest such a thing and if you know of specific cases, please let us know. Our FAGO office is very active in pursuing such things.

QUIGLEY: Have you let it known within the agency that you won't tolerate this and specifically relating to these issues?

CARSON: I have made it very clear.

QUIGLEY: We will pass these two studies on to you.

In a related matter, your department has proposed rules that change the information, that faith-based housing providers are required to provide the clients they serve. I imagine, I guess individuals or families dealing with mental illness, substance abuse disorder, HIV/AIDS, or homelessness seeking assistance. What happens is the change that's being proposed by HUD, these people could be forced to receive these services from a faith-based provider even though the beneficiaries know that this provider condemns them for who they are. The current regulation that you're seeking the change requires that the agencies inform them of their right to request an alternative provider. Your proposed rules give them no notice of this ability and no help with finding an alternative. These people, possibly getting absolutely no services.

How does providing the beneficiaries with just a notice of their alternatives and their rights become a burden?

CARSON: As long as it's applied equally to every provider, it's not a problem.

QUIGLEY: What you're saying is you're not letting the beneficiaries know that they have an alternative to go to a provider that doesn't discriminate against them.

CARSON: If no one else is required to do that, a faith-based organization should not be. Every provider should be required to do the same thing is what I'm saying.

QUIGLEY: Well then, my strong suggestion is that you change what you're modifying here and tell them that the rules apply to all providers. But if they're not faith based, the possibility that their objectives and their bylaws discriminate, you don't have the same problem. What you're saying is fine but you're not telling the faith-based people, providers, that they have to provide alternatives and let people know of their rights to alternatives under what you're proposing now.

CARSON:I'll say if everybody has to say what all the alternatives are, I don't have a problem with it. If you're only selecting out faith-based organizations and saying they have to do it, that's just discrimination.

QUIGLEY: Well no, we're talking about faith-based organizations that condemn the LGBTQ community in particular for who they are and under the current rules that we're living under, that they have alternatives and here is what they are. That's not what you're talking about here.

CARSON: If they're faith-based organizations and their faith is based on the Bible, then they certainly should not be condemning anyone.

QUIGLEY: But they do.

CARSON: And I'm saying that we're not

QUIGLEY: You're telling them it's okay. That's what we've been talking about for 4 years here.

CARSON: We're not getting those complaints, where are they going? Who are they complaining to?

QUIGLEY: There's a reason that all these rules got put in place. With all due respect, if you don't understand that the trans community and the LGBT community as a whole have been discriminated against, the person who believes that has been living under a rock.

CARSON: I'm not saying they're not discriminated against; I'm saying we're not getting the complaints. Where are they going? Can you help me understand that?

QUIGLEY: We're past our time but we obviously need much longer time to talk about the fact that these rules allow this discrimination to talk place and people as a result won't be provided these services.

My time is up again.

—From a press release

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