Court excepts roommate site from housing bias laws

February 03, 2012
A website that matches prospective roommates is entitled to screen applicants by sexual orientation and gender because housing discrimination laws don't apply within a household, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
     Applying civil rights laws to living arrangements inside a home or apartment "would allow the government to restrict our ability to choose roommates compatible with our lifestyles," said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. "This would be a serious invasion of privacy, autonomy and security."
     The court ordered dismissal of a suit by two civil rights organizations in Southern California against Roommate.com. The Phoenix website requires prospective users to disclose their sex, sexual orientation and family status and say whether they would be willing to live with straight or gay men or women, or with children.