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Feds propose housing protection for gays

Federal officials on Jan. 20 proposed new rules aimed at keeping lending and housing programs open to people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Under the proposals from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, lenders would be barred from using such “irrelevant criteria” to determine a borrower's eligibility for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

Also, the term "family" would be clarified to cover those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual, and such families can't be excluded from HUD programs if they're eligible, the proposals said.

On another front, housing owners and operators who get some type of help from HUD would be barred from asking about an applicant's sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a draft of the rules.

The public has 60 days to comment. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales and lending on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and familial status.

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