Active Rain December 31, 2008

Why Gay Marriage is Good for Real Estate

This might be a sensitive subject to some. However, I feel that my thoughts need to be expressed and our industry should be a leader and not a passive observer. I view gay marriage as an equal housing issue, and therefore something that should be supported by licensees.

The building bloc of society is people coupling up as families. Families buy real estate; single people are more prone to rent. To cut to the chase, legal gay marriage will attract more couples who will buy houses, period. The ripple effect will be considerable, because homeowners pay taxes, buy cars, washing machines, fences, new roofs, lawnmowers, and many other things that circulate money. If gay people wish to couple up and buy houses, we should support that. We should enthusiastically broker those deals. Many of us have already worked with gay clients (whether we knew it or not). But without the legal status that comes with marriage, those numbers will be suppressed.

Some might find it ironic that a straight, relatively conservative Roman Catholic would support gay marriage, but I find it more ironic that millions more of us think gay people are good enough to watch on TV in makeover or redecoration shows but not good enough for us to stick out our necks. Simply put, we should support gay marriage as real estate professionals. I am not on a soapbox advocating radical social change. As a matter of fact, mainstreaming gay marriage is actually a rather fiscally conservative, libertarian notion. To me, its very prohibition is antithetical to freedom and equality.

The United States has long been a nation where legal agreements between consenting people, so long as they do not harm others, should be respected and free from fear. Secular, non-religious covenants should not be offensive to religious precepts. Religion, which seems to be the biggest opponent, does not have to sanction, support or recognize any practice it does not sponsor, but do you ever see nuns picketing a civil wedding, which is also not recognized by the Church? Of course not. The gay things spooks people.

Let me tell you about the gay thing, and if you have a gay friend or loved one you’ll know what I mean.  As a New York agent, home of the original melting pot, I can confidently state that gay people are no more a big deal than you or I. Hollywood has let gay people down. The media, especially the news outlets, has just hammered gay people. Here in North Jersey, an Indian American opened fire in a church and murdered two people. It was news for about a day. Elsewhere, some gay protesters disrupted a  church service and it was in the talkshow fodder for WEEKS. Consequently, you have the uninformed harboring outlandish generalities about gay people. Do we in the 21st century tolerate other stereotypes? Why are gays, then, the last victims of Jim Crow?

 I have never understood how gay people being married hurts the institution of marriage or our nation’s moral fiber. I am not trying to be relativist, either, although I know some straight marriages that don’t exactly edify marriage either. I do know this: since the fall of the iron curtain, Europe, which has far more tolerant attitudes about gays, has experienced unprecedented peace and prosperity. I seriously doubt that gay rights in Europe have undermined the EU’s progress. It has in many ways probably helped.

Most minds will not be changed by my one commentary, and this is not the end justifying the means if your opinion is still not open to allowing gay marriage. If you think the gay lifestyle is immoral, don’t practice it. However, if you think that by assisting gay couples who wish to buy real estate that you are sanctioning immorality, you are skating on very thin ice from an equal housing perspective. Jack Daniel’s whiskey is produced in a dry county. No one views that as hypocritical, nor should they. The same principle applies to our industry and support of gay marriage. It is good for our industry and morally ambiguous to us personally.

If you are undecided or ambivalent, I encourage you to join me in sticking your neck out. Benign neglect is not enough. There is an under-serviced market out there, the service of which is mutually exclusive to puritanical mores. Separate your morality from equality. America is a nation where people who would be mortal enemies abroad engage in amicable and peaceful commerce. And, regardless of our personal prejudices, where there is commerce and prosperity, there is peace and harmony.

It is in our interest to extend a hand to gay and lesbian Americans and vocally offer them our best. I assert that it is best for the nation as a whole as well.