Carson’s Extreme Views on Poverty and LGBTQ Rights Undermine HUD’s Mission
On Thursday January 12, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for President-elect Trump’s unlikely nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – Dr. Ben Carson.
As is the case with many of Trump’s cabinet nominees, we have serious concerns about the negative impact Carson could have on the LGBTQ community, and these concerns are detailed below. First, however, it’s worth noting one incredible fact that sets Carson apart from the other cabinet nominees – he is the only individual to have indicated that he is unqualified to manage a federal agency. A Carson spokesperson told The Hill in November, prior to his being selected as the HUD nominee, that “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”
However, it is now a strong possibility that Carson will indeed be taking the reins at HUD, a vast federal agency that employs thousands and has an annual budget of over $40 billion. Given the millions of Americans that rely on HUD programs, it is vital that the Department has a leader who understands the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable communities, and has the competencies to manage a large and complex government agency.
We believe that Ben Carson is unqualified to lead HUD, and we need you to CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY to urge them to oppose his nomination.
Even more troubling than Carson’s complete lack of government experience is his demonstrated antipathy toward basic tenets of the social safety net, which are core to HUD’s mission of ensuring access to safe, affordable housing. Carson is on record as believing that poverty is a “choice” avoidable through “hard work,” and has characterized fair housing policies as failed attempts at social engineering. HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities that are free from discrimination and to provide access to quality affordable homes for all. Not only does Ben Carson have zero experience relevant to HUD’s mission, he has expressed blatant disdain for the Department’s mission and a dangerous lack of understanding about poverty in general.
But as the nation’s leading voice for LGBTQ families, even more concerning to us is the devastating impact Carson could have on LGBTQ communities – families, individuals, and children – if confirmed by the Senate to lead HUD.
Carson has been vocal about his extreme, anti-LGBTQ beliefs in public statements and speeches, and on the presidential campaign trail. For example, Carson has:
- spoken out repeatedly against marriage equality, including comparing marriage between same-sex couples to bestiality and pedophilia,
- stated that he believes being gay is a choice,
- referred to transgender people as “abnormal”, and
- dismissed LGBTQ rights and nondiscrimination protections as “extra rights” that are “garbage” and “silly.”
Over the last 8 years, the LGBTQ community has gained significant nondiscrimination protections in access to housing, but this progress is now at risk with the nomination of an individual with such clear, anti-LGBTQ animus. The Equal Access Rule, finalized in February 2012, ensured that core HUD programs – including FHA mortgage insurance, public and assisted housing, and community development programs – are open to all without consideration of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. In September 2016, this rule was expanded to ensure transgender people could access shelter programs. However, securing access to safe, affordable housing remains a major challenge faced by LGBTQ people, who are disproportionately impacted by limited access to affordable housing and face disproportionately high rates of homelessness, and continue to experience routine and pervasive discrimination. Within the LGBTQ community, our most vulnerable groups face even greater hardship. For example:
- LGBTQ youth represent only 7% of the total youth population, but make up 40% of all youth experiencing homelessness.
- Older LGBTQ adults face discrimination in access to senior living facilities due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- A recent survey of transgender individuals revealed that almost 30% of respondents had experienced homelessness, and only 16% were homeowners, compared to 63% of the U.S. population.
We need a HUD secretary who believes in HUD’s mission – one who will fight any attempts to roll back vital nondiscrimination protections, and who will enforce existing laws and regulations to administer HUD’s programs and protect all people, including the LGBTQ community. Carson’s record of ridiculing and dismissing LGBTQ rights and identities gives us no confidence that he can fulfill these requirements. Please CALL YOUR SENATORS and ask them to VOTE NO on Ben Carson for HUD Secretary.
The confirmation hearing will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, on Thursday Jan 12 at 10am EST. We encourage you to watch, and join us in amplifying our message on social media while you do so.