LGBT Couple Prevails in Fair Housing Act Case

Judge extends anti-discrimination protections for first time in federal housing law context

A federal district court in Boulder County may have made history when it found that a property owner violated U.S. housing laws when she refused to rent a home to a same-sex couple and their two children.
On April 5, Judge Raymond Moore granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of Rachel Smith, who is transgender, and Tonya Smith after the couple filed a complaint against Deepika Avanti for denying them a lease to property she owns in Gold Hill, because of their “kids and the noise” and “unique relationship.” Avanti also expressed fear in an email to the plaintiffs that renting the property, a two-bedroom townhouse, would jeopardize her “low profile” in the community.
According to attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, it is the first court ruling of which they are aware that extends protections offered by the federal Fair Housing Act against discrimination based on sex stereotypes to LGBT and transgender individuals.
“In this case, the Smiths contend that discrimination against women (like them) for failure to conform to stereotype norms concerning to or with whom a woman should be attracted, should marry, and/or should have children is discrimination on the basis of sex under the FHA. The court agrees,” Moore wrote in the order. “Such stereotypical norms are no different from other stereotypes associated with women, such as the way she should dress or act (e.g., that a woman should not be overly aggressive, or should not act “macho”), and are products of sex stereotyping.”

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the April 17, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.