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Court dismisses case of lesbian couple denied place at retirement home

Court dismisses case of lesbian couple denied place at retirement home

Lesbian couple Mary and Bev

A US District Judge dismissed a lawsuit by a lesbian couple in St. Louis, Missouri on Wednesday (16 January).

Mary Walsh, 72, and Bev Nance, 68 sued the Friendship Village senior living community in July last year.

The pair have been together for nearly four decades and married in 2009.

They alleged the Friendship Village discriminated against them based on their same-sex relationship.

Marriage is ‘the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible’, according to the Village.

They, therefore, launched a case, alleging discrimination based on sex under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Not protected

But, on Wednesday, Judge Jean Hamilton, wrote that the FHA only prohibits discrimination on the basis of ‘race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin’, according to the St Louis Post.

‘Under (the) circumstances, the Court finds the claims boil down to those of discrimination based on sexual orientation rather than sex alone,’ Hamilton’s decision read.

‘The Eighth Circuit has squarely held that “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against homosexuals.”‘

But, previous district courts have ruled that sexual orientation discrimination comes under sex discrimination.

‘Very hurtful’

Walsh and Nance first applied to Friendship Village senior living community in July 2016. What’s more, the couple have friends who live in the community and love it.

Walsh said she asked on their first visit if it would be a problem for a same-sex couple to live there.

‘The discrimination they experienced was very hurtful’, one of the couple’s attorneys, Julie Wilensky, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

‘This is a very straightforward example of discrimination “because of sex”’ Wilesnky also said.

‘If Mary were a man married to Bev, instead of a woman married to Bev, Friendship Village would not have turned them away’.

The attorney told the St Louis Post-Dispatch the couple were considering next steps.

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