HUD Sec. Marcia Fudge to protect LGBT rights in federal housing

Wed. March 10, 2021 6:51 PM by Gerald Farinas

The U.S. Senate confirmed Marcia Fudge to become the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. A bipartisan vote of 66-34 makes her only the second Black woman to lead the department.

The first was Patricia Roberts Harris under President Jimmy Carter.

Fudge's identity as a Black woman and former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus helps the Biden Administration underline its priority of protecting civil rights in housing and urban planning for Blacks and Brown people, and other minorities like the LGBT community.

As congresswoman from Ohio since 2008, Fudge voted last month to pass the latest iteration of the Equality Act—a sweeping civil rights law that would finally give LGBT persons federal protections when it comes to renting an apartment, buying a house, applying for credit or mortgage, purchasing insurance, among other things in the realm of HUD to protect.

“I just voted for the Equality Act to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans,” she said on Feb. 25. “Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of who they are or whom they love.”

Fudge was previously criticized for not supporting a 2018 iteration of the Equality Act, arguing at the time that she opposed lashing it together with the existing Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Current Affairs magazine political watcher Vanessa Bee opposed Fudge's nomination.

She wrote, “Fudge's initial hesitation toward the Equality Act is discomforting and her explanation unsatisfying. After all, it is not uncommon for the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity to overlap with categories of discrimination already covered by the existing Civil Rights Act.”

While her opposition was considered hostile to the LGBT community, her LGBT supporters argued she was doing it to keep Senate Republicans in charge from using the opportunity to made additions to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would rollback Black civil rights.

HUD saw major rollback of civil rights protections under the Trump Administration and former Sec. Ben Carson. The former neurosurgeon-turned-bureaucrat has been portrayed by activists as someone who openly disparaged LGBT people and even proposed rules that would make it legal to turn them away from shelters and other public accommodations provided by faith-based organizations.

She said at the time of her opposition, “The president of the United States is a racist, in my opinion. If we open the Civil Rights Act, it's like opening up Pandora's box.”

Fudge and her supporters argued that Republicans would force compromises with Democrats on the Equality Act back then, that would give Christian institutions a pass based on religious liberty in the Civil Rights Act.

Biden is tasking Fudge to uphold his policy of protecting Black and Brown people, and LGBT persons, from discrimination in all areas in her sphere of influence as HUD secretary. She would also be responsible for rooting out policies that maintain systemic racism.

While Republicans are sounding the warning bells with Fudge at the helm, she does have the support of Republicans like Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

“I don't always agree with Marcia on policy, she doesn't always agree with me,” Portman said during Fudge's confirmation hearing. “But I can speak to her integrity, her commitment to justice and strength of her character.”