Realtor panel finds Pastor Clinton breached ethics for ‘hate speech,’ but pastor appeals – Daily Montanan
A Clinton pastor and realtor who clashed with a group of local and national realtors over allegations he held hate speech against LGBTQ people violated the industry’s code of ethics , according to a recent decision by a Missoula Organization of Realtors hearing panel.
“Although this is the respondent’s first breach of the Code, these breaches are considered very serious and based on a disregard of the Code of Ethics,” said the decision filed with a July 27 court document.
Panel said Brandon Huber’s social media post noting that an event at his church would ‘expose the LGBTQ agenda that controls our lives and kills our freedom’ violated an anti-discrimination provision in the officers’ code of conduct real estate.
Huber, however, argued that real estate agents were violating his religious freedom, and on Wednesday his attorney said Huber would not pay a $5,000 fine or undergo diversity training that the panel recommended to the board. of directors to impose as sanctions.
“Pastor Huber will never enroll in the real estate agents’ anti-Christian, woke ‘diversity’ program,” said Bozeman attorney Matthew Monforton, who represents Huber.
Missoula Organization of Realtors CEO Jim Bachand declined to comment on the outcome of the hearing, citing confidentiality established in the code of ethics. The panel also found that Huber breached confidentiality, contrary to the code of ethics, when he disclosed information in the ethics complaint through a court filing and an “online newsletter tool.”
The conclusion of the ethics hearing is the most recent result of Huber’s fight with the Missoula Organization of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.
In an unsuccessful case filed earlier this year in Missoula County District Court, Huber alleged the realtor groups violated Montana’s human rights law by subjecting him to an ethics hearing. based on his “protected religious activities”.
Huber filed the lawsuit after he said his Clinton community church would sever ties with the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center over its support of LGBTQ people, and a third party filed a lawsuit against him citing the new policy Against Hate Speech (see below) promulgated by the National Association of Realtors in 2020 and followed by the local group.
In a decision from the bench, Judge Jason Marks said the claims of religious discrimination were premature and that Huber must first go through the professional organization’s administrative process before taking his claims to court.
While the panel found Huber breached the code of ethics with one post, it also found he was clear on another allegation.
The ruling said the Professional Standards Committee’s hearing panel did not condone Huber’s actions when he severed ties with the food bank and posted a letter on social media explaining that he believed that coloring page from the nonprofit for children’s lunches went against biblical doctrine. However, he said the panel did not find the action to be a violation of his code of ethics.
The Missoula Organization of Realtors panel’s recent decision indicates that its judgment is not final and is being appealed by Huber, and Monforton said his client is likely to pursue that option. But he does not expect relief.
“We can appeal this decision to their board, and I imagine we probably will, but the fix is in place,” Monforton said. “They took this action because they hate Pastor Huber’s religious faith, and they are doing it to penalize him for it.”
Monforton also said he and his client are considering their next steps in the court system given their concerns about the hearing. Monforton said the ethics hearing took place on July 19, ended at 2:30 p.m., and all five panelists signed a decision against Huber that same afternoon.
“Given the religious basis of Pastor Huber’s speech and the lack of any real deliberation by the ethics committee, the realtors’ decision was clearly based on anti-Christian bigotry,” Monforton said.
Huber is also seeking a legislative solution. Last month, Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, introduced a bill, “Brandon’s Law,” which aims to protect real estate agents from religious discrimination, protect their rights to free speech, and ensure that they can access a real estate database even if they don’t. ‘t join the organization of estate agents or pay dues.
Currently, if the Missoula Organization of Realtors imposes a fine for Huber’s ethics violations and he refuses to pay it, Monforton has stated that he will lose access to this database and, therefore, he could lose his livelihood.
Code of ethics
Earlier court documents cited the National Association of Realtors’ ban on hate speech and noted that it applies to all speech by realtors, not just speech related to work: , sex, disability, family status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity”. The appendix to the code defines “hate speech” as that “intended to insult, offend or intimidate a person because of certain traits (such as race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin or disability) “.