A married lesbian couple was charged with discrimination when a depraved village in Missouri denied their request for elder, but a judge
rejected their case Wednesday.
What is the background?
Married couple Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance applied for housing in a retirement community in St. Louis in July.
The village of Friendship Village Sunset Hills, a "faith-based but non-confessional non-profit" independent, living organization, denied their request.
Walsh said she was disappointed in the decision and told the New York Times in August that she had met people from across the community who seemed very friendly.
"We met other people from the community and they were very friendly," said Walsh. "I felt good about it."
The couple even went as far as depositing a $ 2,000 deposit on their two-bedroom residence.
After reviewing the application from the couple, the director of the residence in Walsh called to inquire about the nature of her relationship with Nance.
"I said:" We have been married since 2009, "Walsh told the outlet."[The director] said: & # 39; I'll have to call you back. & # 39; "
The couple later received a parcel in the post: the community policy on cohabitation together with a request refusal. According to the outlet, the policy imposed certain restrictions on brothers and sisters, parents, grandchildren, and same-sex, married or unmarried partners, not within the approved policy guidelines.
"The term" marriage "as used in this policy means the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible," determined the policy, according to the Times.
So what did they do?
In response to the denial, Walsh and Nance filed a federal lawsuit in which they claimed sex discrimination and the community violated the Fair Housing Act and the Missouri Human Rights Act.
In a statement, lawyer Julie Wilensky of the National Center for Lesbian Rights said: "Mary and Bev were denied housing for one reason and only one reason because they had married each other rather than men."
"This is exactly the type of sex discrimination that the Fair Housing Act prohibits," Wilensky added. "Their story shows what kind of exclusion and discrimination is still the case for same-sex couples of all ages."
ACLU of Missouri Legal Director Tony Rothert added: "Mary and Bev were financially and otherwise qualified to serve in the Friendship Village community, their exclusion from this community is the result of discrimination alone."
Walsh concluded: "We have been together for almost 40 years and have spent our lives in St. Louis. We want to get older through each other's side and we must not be prevented from gaining access to the housing and care we need."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri represent the couple.
What happens now?
According to a report by
St. Louis Public Radio, judge in the American district of Jean Hamilton, dismissed the case Wednesday.
The report noted that Friendship Village called its "cohabitation policy" as the reason to refuse Walsh and Nance, and as a result Hamilton dismissed the case.
The policy defines marriage in its biblical terms – between one man and one woman, like & # 39; marriage is understood in the Bible & # 39 ;.
In a memo Hamilton wrote, "the Court finds that the allegations amount to discrimination based on sexual orientation instead of sex alone."
In a statement to the store, Walsh said: "We are disappointed with the decision of the court, Bev and I are considering our next steps and will discuss this with our lawyers."
Arlene Zarembka, a lawyer for Walsh and Nance, said: "Friendship village's denial of housing for Mary and Bev because they are two women – not a man and a woman – is discrimination" because of sex & # 39; in the most literal sense and Bev are lesbians does not change this analysis. "
Neither the Fair Housing Act nor the Missouri Human Rights Act prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – based solely on gender.