A Missouri lesbian couple was told they couldn’t buy a unit in a retirement community because they’re married.
The women took their case to court, filing a lawsuit alleging sex discrimination.
Beverly Nance, 68, and Mary Walsh, 72, have been in a committed relationship for 40 years, and married for ten.
In 2016, the couple visited and applied to move into the Friendship Village Sunset Hills community – doesn’t that sound lovely? – a retirement community near St. Louis.
They were qualified tenants and they even put down a $2,000 deposit.
But a week after putting down the deposit, a representative of Friendship Village called to inquire about the nature of the women's relationship.
When Walsh informed the rep that they were married, they were told they couldn’t move into Friendship Village because it has a policy that “defined marriage as between a man and a woman” and as “marriage is understood in the Bible.”
The FHA bans discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.”
“Mary and Bev were denied housing for one reason and one reason only – because they were married to each other rather than to men,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Senior Staff Attorney Julie Wilensky in a statement. “This is exactly the type of sex discrimination the Fair Housing Act prohibits.”
But U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton didn’t see it that way and dismissed their case this week, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“The Court finds the claims boil down to those of discrimination based on sexual orientation rather than sex alone,” wrote Judge Hamilton. “The Eighth Circuit has squarely held that ‘Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against homosexuals.’”
In the state of Missouri, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is legal. There are no statewide protections for LGBTQ people in the Show Me state.
The couple's lawyers told reporters, “We disagree with the court’s decision, and our clients are considering next steps.”
(h/t St. Louis Post-Dispatch – image via Facebook/MaryWalsh)