A federal judge on Wednesday ruled in favor of a retirement community in Missouri that rejected an apartment application from a lesbian couple because their marriage is not “understood in the Bible.”
Bev Nance, 68, and Mary Walsh, 72, married a decade ago in Massachusetts and have been in a committed relationship for almost 40 years.
When they applied to move into the Friendship Village senior living facility in Sunset Hill in 2016, they did so “because it is in their community, they have friends there, and it offers services that would allow them to stay together there for the rest of their lives,” said Julie Wilensky, an attorney representing the couple.
But once Friendship Village staff discovered that the two women are married, they told the couple that they were not allowed to move in, because the home did not condone homosexuality. The retirement community sent a letter to the couple explaining that only married couples they accepted were those in unions between “one man and one woman.”
The couple sued, alleging “discrimination on the basis of sex,” which is a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
U.S. District Judge Jean C. Hamilton finally ruled this week that Friendship Village’s decision to reject the couple was based on sexual orientation rather than the couple’s gender.
Hamilton dismissed the couple’s lawsuit, ruling that federal civil rights law “does not prohibit discrimination against homosexuals.”
In her decision, Hamilton cited a 1989 ruling by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that is being challenged by the LGBTQ legal advocacy group Lambda Legal, NBC noted.
“At no time do Plaintiffs assert that had they been men involved in a same-sex relationship or marriage, they would have been admitted as residents in Friendship Village,” Hamilton wrote in the court’s decision. “Under these circumstances, the Court finds the claims boil down to those of discrimination based on sexual orientation rather than sex alone.”
LGBTQ groups decried the judge’s decision and the couple’s lawyers told NBC News “we disagree with the court’s decision, and our clients are considering next steps.”
Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, which advocates for LGBTQ seniors, said “this is sex discrimination, and it is against the law.”
“Mary Walsh and Bev Nance were discriminatorily denied admission to the Friendship Village retirement community for one reason only – because they are two women in a committed relationship rather than a woman and a man,” Adams told NBC News.
Check out the original story here: The Gaily Grind.
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