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Lesbian couple loses housing discrimination case

A married lesbian couple was denied entry to a retirement community in Missouri. Bev Nance and Mary Walsh are both retired and decided it was time to settle down in a retirement community. The couple, who have been married for ten years, applied to live in Missouri’s Friendship Village.

Retirement village views marriage as between a man and a woman

According to Reuters, their application was denied because the company claimed their marriage does not align with biblical principles. The retirement community claims it defines marriage as “the union of one man and one woman.”

Couple accused the community of gender discrimination

Nance is a retired math teacher, and Walsh is a retired business manager. The longtime Missouri residents have been together for nearly forty years. They got married in Massachusetts in 2009. After being rejected from the community, the women filed a lawsuit accusing Friendship Village of gender discrimination.

Court ruled it was not gender discrimination

But a federal court ruled against the women, and stated it was not a case of gender discrimination. The court ruling did state it could be considered discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, federal housing law does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The women are talking to attorneys and considering their next steps.

It is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation in New York

Some states do offer their residents these protections, including New York. According to the New York State Division of Human Rights, the New York State Human Rights Law prohibits housing discrimination based on national origin, sexual orientation, sex, color, age, disability, marital status, creed, family status and military status. The state also just added gender identity to the list of protected classes. Transgender people are now protected from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation.

If you are denied housing based on any of these protected characteristics, you have the right to pursue legal action. This discrimination is illegal in New York. Pursuing a discrimination case against landlord, real estate agent or homeowner can be complicated. You will likely want to enlist the help of an experienced New York attorney.

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