Two House Democrats are backing a bill that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the area of housing.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, along with Michigan Congressman John Conyers, introduced the measure Thursday at a subcommittee hearing reviewing the efficacy of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

“Housing discrimination remains a persistent problem in our country,” Nadler told the panel. “Jim Crow laws and restrictive covenants may no longer be with us, but the discriminatory attitudes and practices they represent remain. Outright discrimination, steering, a refusal to build accessible housing as required by law, and discriminatory lending practices continue to plague renters and prospective homeowners. And, shamefully, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are perfectly legal in many areas, and people are regularly denied a place to live simply because of that status.”

The Nadler/Conyers bill seeks to amend the Fair Housing Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, testified that 11 percent of transgender people have been evicted because of their gender identity; another 19 percent have been left homeless. A 2007 study concluded that 30 percent of gay couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home, Carey said.

“For us, the pursuit of the American dream, including home ownership, is a risky proposition. We may experience resistance or outright hostility from a variety of sources including landlords, lenders and realtors,” Carey testified.

“When we disclose our sexual orientation or gender identity, voluntarily or involuntarily, we may be subjected to violence and/or property damage,” she added.

A hearing on the bill has yet to be scheduled.