Married lesbian couple rejected from retirement community win lawsuit

The lesbian couple, who were told in 2018 that they would not be welcome at the Friendship Retirement Village have reached a confidential settlement.

lesbian retirement married Lesbian couple Mary Walsh and Bev Nance

A lesbian couple who have been together for over 40 years has won a legal battle after they were refused entry into a retirement village together because they are married.

Mary Walsh, 74, and Bev Nance, 70, applied for a house in the Friendship Village senior living community in Sunset Hils, Missouri, where a number of their friends already live.

The couple attended a viewing in July 2016 and had put a $2,000 deposit on a home, however, their application was rejected.

They were told: “Your request to share a single unit does not fall within the categories permitted by the long-standing policy of Friendship Village Sunset Hills.”

Owners stated their cohabitation policy only extends to opposite-sex married couples citing their belief is that marriage is “the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible.

Walsh and Nance were shocked by this as a couple who have been together since 1978 and married since 2009. They sued Friendship Village alleging housing discrimination but their case was dismissed with a judge finding that the discrimination was not illegal.

The brave couple did not give up and their case was reinstated in July 2019 following the landmark US Supreme Court ruling that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination, applies to cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The lesbian couple got their victory on Tuesday, December 8, having reached a confidential settlement with the retirement village.

“This has been a harrowing experience and one that I hope no other same-sex couple has to face,” Walsh said after the ruling was announced. “Bev and I are relieved that this case is now behind us and that we have closure after our lives were thrown into chaos.”

Walsh and Nance’s focus now is only “on their health and each other,” and trying to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.