A lesbian couple in Missouri was denied an apartment because their marriage was not “understood in the Bible”

Same-sex marriage may be legal in the U.S., but LGBTQ individuals still face systemic discrimination. In one of the most high-profile LGBTQ discrimination cases of 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that a Colorado baker could refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple on the basis of his religious beliefs. And NBC News reports that on Wednesday, January 16th, a federal judge in Missouri ruled against a lesbian couple who had been turned away from a retirement facility because of their sexuality.

Bev Nance and Mary Walsh, who have been married for 10 years and together for 40, applied to live in the Friendship Village, but the senior living center rejected their application. According to The New York Times, the facility sent Nance and Walsh a copy of its cohabitation policy, which states that only spouses, siblings, and parents and children can live together. The policy defines “spouses” only as heterosexual couples.

"The term ‘marriage’ as used in this policy means the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible," the policy reads, according to The Times. 

Nance and Walsh sued the Friendship Village for gender-based discrimination, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that the U.S. District Judge Jean C. Hamilton ruled that their complaint was really about sexual orientation, which is not protected under the Fair Housing Act, according to Eighth Circuit court precedent. Her decision notes that while other courts have ruled differently in similar cases, she is bound by previous rulings in the Eighth Circuit specifically.

One of Nance and Walsh’s lawyers, Julie Wilensky, disagreed with this interpretation in a statement to the Post-Dispatch.

"If Mary were a man married to Bev, instead of a woman married to Bev, Friendship Village would not have turned them away," she said. "This is a very straightforward example of discrimination 'because of sex.'"

Wilensky also told the newspaper that she and the rest of the couple’s legal team are considering the next steps.

It’s 2019, and the LGBTQ community should be protected by our legal system. Nance and Walsh—and all LGBTQ couples—deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples. End of story.

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