Ayn Rand Institute Press Release
And You Thought It Was Your Room
April 16, 2008
Irvine, CA--Is it legal for a roommate locator service to match up customers according to their mutual preferences: male or female, gay or straight, have children or childless? Probably not, according to a recent federal appellate court decision in Fair Housing Council v. Roommates.com. That's because the federal Fair Housing Act and a similar California law ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or marital status in housing transactions.
"This lawsuit attacks individual liberty in a particularly sensitive area," said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute. "Adults who contemplate sharing living space should have absolute contractual freedom to use a roommate-matching service that treats their own individual preferences as paramount.
"It's perfectly obvious that an incompatible roommate can make life miserable, as anyone who has occupied a freshman dorm room can testify. People should not have to get government permission to arrange their private affairs according to their own best judgment.
"The government's job is to protect you against physical force and fraud, not to overrule your preference for a roommate who shares your sexual orientation--or not; who is of the same sex--or not; or who has children--or not.
"The law should respect and protect the right of Roommates.com, or any other such matching service, to design a questionnaire that suits their customers' needs. Roommate seekers who object to a particular questionnaire are free to find another matching service, or to start their own.
"This case illustrates why the Fair Housing Act, which does nothing but infringe on freedom of contract in the housing market, should be repealed."
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Mr. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on legal issues. A former lawyer and law school instructor, who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his op-eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.
Thomas Bowden is available for interviews.
Contact: Larry Benson
Phone: (949) 222-6550 ext. 213
For more information on Objectivism's unique point of view, go to ARI's Web site. Founded in 1985, the Ayn Rand Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.