Document Type

Working Paper


Spring 1-2018


LGBTQ Discrimination, Same-Sex Households, Housing Audits, State and Local Laws, Rental Market Discrimination.




Working Papers Series


Inequality and Stratification | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology


I present the results of a randomized pair-email correspondence audit of 6,490 property owners in 94 U.S. cities to provide a nationally-representative estimate of the level of discrimination that same-sex couples experience when inquiring about rental housing. I find that same-sex male couples, especially non-White same-sex male couples, are less likely to receive a response to inquiries about rental units. I also find that same-sex male Black couples are subject to more subtle forms of discrimination than heterosexual Black couples. I also examine if state and local anti-discrimination laws covary with rates of housing discrimination against same-sex couples. While my results are not causal, I find that anti-discrimination laws have an ambiguous relationship with rates of discrimination faced by same-sex couples. State-level housing protections, for example, covary positively with response rates (state laws appear to correlate with less discrimination) for same-sex Black male couples. However, local-level laws covary negatively with response rates for same-sex Black male couples. JEL No.



Additional Information

Working paper no. 210

The author is grateful to Judson Murchie and John Yinger for their guidance and helpful comments. Many thanks to Phil “Papa” Murchie for the scrapping programs used in this paper. He is also grateful to Katherine Michelmore, Marina Gorsuch, Akanksha Patnaik, Mattie Mackenzie-Liu, Kitt Carpenter, Marieka Klawitter, and the participants of the Research Related to Gender and Sexual Minorities at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management at the fall 2017 Conference and the Maxwell School’s Public Administration and International Affairs Doctoral Student Seminar for very helpful comments. He thanks Human Rights Campaign for their assistance with the Municipal Equality Index. All errors, omissions, and remaining points of confusion are his own. The author has no financial arrangements that might give rise to conflicts of interest with respect to the research reported in this paper.

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