September 16, 2020
It has been a while since same-sex marriage has become legal in the US but LGBTQ community still face discrimination there. Bev Nance(68) and Mary Walsh(72) who have been married for 10 years and have been in a committed relationship from 40 years, applied to live in Friendship Village, St. Louis, but the senior living centre rejected their application. According to the New York Times, the facility sent them a copy of their cohabitation copy stating that parents, spouses, siblings and children can live together, highlighting “spouses” means only heterosexual couples.
Nance and Walsh sued, alleging “discrimination on the basis of sex”. According to the Julie Wilensky, the attorney who is representing the couple said, “They applied to live there 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.”
But when the staffs at the Friendship Village found out that Nance and Walsh were married, they rejected their application stating that the facility doesn’t support homosexuality. The letter they received stated that the couples they accept in Friendship village were in unions of “man and women”.
In one of the high profile LGBTQ cases of 2018, the judge ruled against the same-sex couple stating that a Colorado baker could refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple on the basis of his religious beliefs. And the same thing happened in this case too, the federal judge ruled against the couple.
Nance and Walsh sued the facility for gender-based discrimination but the district judge, Jean C. Hamilton ruled out their charge was really against sexual orientation and not gender-based discrimination and sexual orientation is not protected under the Fair Housing Act, according to the Eighth Circuit court precedent. Judge Hamilton said she had to rule differently because in the Eighth precedent specifically, she is bound by the previous rulings.
The case Judge Hamilton was referring, Williamson v. A.G. Edwards & Sons (1989) is currently being challenged in court by LGBT legal advocacy group, Lambda Legal. So, the group is representing a man whose job offer was cancelled once the company found out that he was gay. If this case precedent is overturned this year then the discrimination against LGBT people would become illegal at the federal level in all the states in the 8th Circuit: North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas.
Julie Wilensky disagreed with the ruling made stating that, “If Mary were a man married to Bev, instead of a woman married to Bev, Friendship Village would not have turned them away. This is a very straightforward example of discrimination ‘because of sex.’”
The LGBTQ community is not happy with the judge’s ruling, the lawyer of the couple said, “We disagree with the court’s decision, and our clients are considering next steps.”
Source: nbcnews.com, hellogiggles.com, Kristv.com, advocate.com