A federal judge in the U.S. has ruled against a lesbian couple who sued a retirement home for rejecting their apartment application because their marriage wasn’t “understood in the Bible”.
Mary Walsh and Bev Nance, who have been in a relationship for 40 years and married for ten, had initially applied to move into the Friendship Village senior living facility in Missouri in 2016.
However, despite never hiding their relationship, an employee of the facility, Carmen Fronczak, called them to say that their application had been rejected because they were lesbians.
They then received a formal rejection letter.
“Your request to share a single unit does not fall within the categories permitted by the long-standing policy of Friendship Village Sunset Hills,” it read.
“The term ‘marriage’ as used in this policy means the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible,” according to the home’s ‘cohabitation policy’.
The couple then sued, alleging “discrimination on the basis of sex”, yet a federal judge in Missouri has ruled that “sexual orientation rather than sex lies at the heart of the Plaintiffs’ claims”, according to NBC News.
Judge Jean C. Hamilton dismissed the women’s claim.
“At no time do the 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.”
Hamilton then noted that the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Missouri, ruled in 1989 that existing federal civil rights law “does not prohibit discrimination against homosexuals”.
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