When Colorado couple Rachel and Tonya Smith tried to rent a two-bedroom townhouse to live with their kids, a property owner was worried about their ‘uniqueness’ and turned them away.
The lesbian couple – Rachel is a transgender female – fought back and filed a discrimination lawsuit against the landlord in Gold Hill, Colorado.
Today, a federal district court judge ruled that property owner Deepika Avanti violated both the federal Fair Housing Act and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act with her refusal to rent.
Avanti had informed the couple within hours of their applying in 2015 that she thought their ‘unique relationship’ would become the focus of discussion in the town and would harm her standing in the community where she had lived for 30 years.
‘Her concerns about Rachel and Tonya’s “uniqueness” and “unique relationship” were discrimination, pure and simple, and we are grateful that the judge agreed,’ Lambda Legal staff attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said in a statement.
Gonzalez-Pagan called the ruling ‘a tremendous victory for Rachel and Tonya, their children, and LGBT people, couples, and families across the country.’
‘For the first time, a federal court has ruled that the Fair Housing Act’s sex discrimination prohibitions apply to discrimination based on stereotypes about sexual orientation and gender identity.’
Tonya Smith said the couple had been ‘so shocked and upset by Deepika’s emails, that simply because of who we are she wouldn’t rent to us. We felt it was unfair and illegal, and now a court has agreed.
‘No one should ever have to go through what we went through, and hopefully this ruling will protect other couples like us who are trying to provide safe homes for their families.’
The couple have been married for seven years and have two children, ages seven and three.