Mary and Beverly wanted to live together in a retirement home. Their request was refused because “the cohabitation policy” only understands marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
As there is no law protecting people against discrimination based on sexual orientation, the strategy of Mary, Beverly and their lawyers has been to file a complaint of discrimination based on sex - if Beverly had been a man, the couple would have been accepted into the retirement home.
U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton ruled against the two women. The court recognized the discrimination but said it was based on “sexual orientation rather than sex” and as such, it was legal.
Judge Hamilton added that sexuality “is not explicitly a protected characteristic” under the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status and national origin in Missouri.
Nevertheless, “the court recognizes that several federal courts have held otherwise in recent opinions, concluding that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination.”
The problem here is that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which is the immediate appeals court above Judge Hamilton’s court, “has not changed its position on the issue, and so the court must dismiss.”
Mary and Beverly were disappointed with the court’s decision and told St. Louis Public Radio they were thinking about the next steps and discussing it with their attorneys.
Mary and Beverly will have highlighted a major problem: the lack of protections for Missouri LGBTQ people in housing, education and employment.
Know Missouri Governor Mike Parson said he’s “open to the idea of extending discrimination protections to LGBT Missourians.”