Straight or gay? Court says Web site can't ask Roommates.com cannot ask applicants to disclose sexual orientation

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    Apr 04, 2008 12:19 PM GMT
    SAN FRANCISCO - A roommate-finding site cannot require users to disclose their sexual orientation, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday, in the latest skirmish over whether anti-discrimination rules apply to the Web.

    The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Roommates.com, which obliges users to list their sexual orientation, was different than Internet sites where people can volunteer or withhold personal information.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23944537/
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    Apr 04, 2008 2:05 PM GMT
    This is an excellent example of how the sword cuts both ways. It's ridiculous that our courts are even tied up with bullshit like this. But, these unintended consequences are what we get when we open up the pandora's box. Enjoy your straight room mate, I hope y'all get along.
    Here in Toledo the older black leaders of the city lament that from the 1940s to the 1960s a whole section of the city had nothing but black owned businesses and was a vibrant community. But now that anti-discrimination laws took effect, that's all gone.
    So be careful what you wish for.

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    Apr 04, 2008 3:52 PM GMT
    This is fair. The people can still offer the information.. Perhaps another alternative would be to allow people to state "I am comfortable with gay roommates" I am comfortable with straight roommates, I am comfortable with diverse sexuality, etc. I certainly would not want to live with someone who was not comfortable with gay people. But in a world of intolerance I can certainly see why you might not want to disclose your sexuality outright.
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    Apr 04, 2008 6:47 PM GMT
    ActiveAndFit saidThis is fair. The people can still offer the information.. Perhaps another alternative would be to allow people to state "I am comfortable with gay roommates" I am comfortable with straight roommates, I am comfortable with diverse sexuality, etc. I certainly would not want to live with someone who was not comfortable with gay people. But in a world of intolerance I can certainly see why you might not want to disclose your sexuality outright.


    Different means to the same end...thus I don't see the difference

    I guess the only difference is that it would hypothetically help prevent bigots (both gay and straight) from leaving immature remarks
  • Timbales

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    Apr 05, 2008 12:45 AM GMT
    That's a wonderful example of what's wrong with this ruling.

    If a woman says she wouldn't be comfortable having a man for a roommate, that's perfectly ok.

    If a gay man were to say he'd rather have a gay man or a female roommate, that's ok.

    If a straight man says he doesn't want a gay roommate, he's a homophobe.
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    Apr 05, 2008 12:55 AM GMT
    Timberoo saidThat's a wonderful example of what's wrong with this ruling.
    The ruling was that you don't have to put that information at all. My example was just say to say if you are going to be picky the burden should be on you to say and not put the chore on a gay person to out themselves.
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    Apr 05, 2008 12:58 AM GMT
    I don't think it's that big of deal.
    I think people should have the right to know so they can avoid certain situations. I think people should put how much they make too so you know that they will be able to pay rent.


  • Timbales

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    Apr 05, 2008 1:01 AM GMT
    ActiveAndFit said[quote][cite]Timberoo said[/cite]That's a wonderful example of what's wrong with this ruling.
    The ruling was that you don't have to put that information at all. My example was just say to say if you are going to be picky the burden should be on you to say and not put the chore on a gay person to out themselves.[/quote]

    Again, that sounds like a double standard to me. I don't think it's picky to want to feel comfortable with a roommate.
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    Apr 05, 2008 1:05 AM GMT
    Timberoo saidAgain, that sounds like a double standard to me. I don't think it's picky to want to feel comfortable with a roommate.
    Isn't that what picky is? you pick what you are comfortable with. There is nothing wrong with being picky as long as you can state it so people can know.
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    Apr 05, 2008 1:08 AM GMT
    Couldn't they have an optional section listing gay or straight, then the applicant is doing the deciding as to whether he/she divulges that info. or does the judges decision totally rule out even the mentioning of preferences, as the law is with minorities, or ethnicity on applications for housing.
  • Timbales

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    Apr 05, 2008 1:08 AM GMT
    ActiveAndFit said[quote][cite]Timberoo said[/cite]Again, that sounds like a double standard to me. I don't think it's picky to want to feel comfortable with a roommate.
    Isn't that what picky is? you pick what you are comfortable with. There is nothing wrong with being picky as long as you can state it so people can know.[/quote]

    and if he openly says he doesn't want a gay roommate, he's a homophobe.

    they make you state your age though, but that's not considered ageist?
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    Apr 05, 2008 1:13 AM GMT
    Timberoo said[quote][cite]ActiveAndFit said[/cite][quote][cite]Timberoo said[/cite]Again, that sounds like a double standard to me. I don't think it's picky to want to feel comfortable with a roommate.
    Isn't that what picky is? you pick what you are comfortable with. There is nothing wrong with being picky as long as you can state it so people can know.[/quote]

    and if he openly says he doesn't want a gay roommate, he's a homophobe.

    they make you state your age though, but that's not considered ageist?[/quote]

    I would be ok with someone offering that information if they want. But they don't have to according to the ruling .. I would not want to live with someone who doesn't want to live with me. Yeah age should not be required either. That cannot be a factor in housing or jobs as far as I know so you should not have to put that unless you want too.
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    Apr 05, 2008 1:13 AM GMT
    Timberoo said[quote][cite]ActiveAndFit said[/cite][quote][cite]Timberoo said[/cite]Again, that sounds like a double standard to me. I don't think it's picky to want to feel comfortable with a roommate.
    Isn't that what picky is? you pick what you are comfortable with. There is nothing wrong with being picky as long as you can state it so people can know.[/quote]

    and if he openly says he doesn't want a gay roommate, he's a homophobe.

    they make you state your age though, but that's not considered ageist?[/quote]

    I don't think that's the problem at all Timberoo, the ruling indicated:

    The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Roommates.com, which obliges users to list their sexual orientation, was different than Internet sites where people can volunteer or withhold personal information.

    The issue is that they REQUIRED a person to enter it. If the person chooses to indicate they want str8 or gay or woman or whatever, it doesn't seem that the court has a problem with that. I don't think that a str8 guy saying he wants only str8 guys makes him look like or be considered necessarily homophobic.

    I just don't read the ruling like that or feel that it is an inference of the ruling.
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    Apr 05, 2008 1:15 AM GMT
    eb925guy saidThe issue is that they REQUIRED a person to enter it.
    Yeah, I think my posting is confusing people.
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    Apr 05, 2008 1:22 AM GMT
    ActiveAndFit saidThis is fair. The people can still offer the information.. Perhaps another alternative would be to allow people to state "I am comfortable with gay roommates" I am comfortable with straight roommates, I am comfortable with diverse sexuality, etc. I certainly would not want to live with someone who was not comfortable with gay people. But in a world of intolerance I can certainly see why you might not want to disclose your sexuality outright.



    No, I think your posting here was correct and was exactly what the court had indicated:

    A Roommates.com section allowing users to add additional comments of their choosing is immune from liability as outlined in the 1996 Communications Decency Act, the San Francisco-based court found.

    One also must keep in mind (damn, now I sound like another use on this site) that the Court in this is the 9th District of Northern California, unarguably the most liberal Court in the US! If this ruling had been anywhere else, it might have NOT been made. Such as it is, it is,seemingly, consistent with other discrimination rulings. Consistency is important, even if we would rather it be another way.