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Is It Housing Discrimination to Seek a Gay-Friendly Roomate?

Dear Ali;
I read your post about how advertising for a gay roommate is a violation of Fair Housing laws. Well, I'm gay, and I need a roommate, but I don't care if they're gay or straight, male or female, short or tall -- I just don't want to be lectured about my lifestyle. Can I advertise for a "gay-friendly" roommate?
A: This one was trickier than it looked, but I checked in with my Fair Housing experts and the consensus is "yes." It's illegal to discriminate by specifying members of what's called a protected class. For example, race is a protected class, so you can't run an ad that says "Roommate Wanted, Whites Only." And you can't run an ad that says "Roommate Wanted, Gay Males Only," because gender is a protected class, and in some places (like New York City) sexual orientation is, too. But it's okay to ask for a behavior, and asking for tolerance is just as fine as asking a roommate if they're neat and quiet.

Good luck, and I hope you land somebody nice who does the dishes.

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