Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher lost the support of a national Realtors group after he said they should be allowed to refuse to sell houses to lesbian and gay people.
Rohrabacher made the comments to an Orange County Association of Realtors delegation in Washington, the Orange County Register reported.
“Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone [if] they don’t agree with their lifestyle,” he said, according to Wayne Woodyard, a former Orange County Realtor president who attended the event.
Woodyard posted the comments on Facebook, which prompted outrage from a real estate gay rights group. Rohrabacher had been designated as a “Realtor Champion,” eligible for support from top Realtor donors, the newspaper reported.
“When a supposed champion of the Realtor Party outright states that housing discrimination should be lawful, I hope you agree there should be cause for concern,” wrote Jeff Berger, founder of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, in a letter to National Association of Realtors President Elizabeth Mendenhall.
Rohrabacher confirmed the statements to the Register on Thursday.
“We’ve drawn a line on racism, but I don’t think we should extend that line,” he said. “A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”
Rohrabacher’s remarks prompted the National Association of Realtors to rescind its recommendation that its members contribute to his campaign.
“It was determined that Rep. Rohrabacher will no longer receive support from NAR’s President’s Circle,” the association said in a statement.
“We certainly hope that Congress will … support the elimination of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” the organization said.
Rohrabacher acknowledged his position would lose him support, but said, “It’s sad to see [the association’s] priority is standing in solidarity with making sure a stamp of approval is put on somebody’s private lifestyle.”
The association’s political action committee contributed $5,000 in December and January.
Rohrabacher, who has been in Congress since 1989, is facing a tough re-election in California’s 48th District, which voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. He faces a challenge from eight Democratic candidates and fellow Republican Scott Baugh.
Democrats are worried the glut of candidates and Baugh’s entrance could lead to its candidates being shut out of the state’s jungle primary next month, since the top two recipients of votes in a primary advance to the general election regardless of party.
To try to overcome that, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee threw its support behind Harley Rouda earlier this month.
Rouda condemned the remarks.
“What Dana Rohrabacher fails to understand is discrimination is discrimination,” he said.
On Thursday, Rouda’s campaign released an ad with a mock debate between Rouda and clips of previous statements Rohrabacher had made. Former “Seinfeld” actor Jason Alexander moderates the “debate.”
Rohrabacher’s other Democratic opponent, researcher Hans Keirstead, also criticized the Republican’s comments.
“This can’t be excused away by a generation gap or the Congressman’s eccentricities. Today’s comments by Congressman Rohrabacher were bigoted and hateful, period,” he said.