Federal Court Awards Summary Judgment to “Unique” Family on Federal and State Housing Discrimination Claims

U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore ruled in Smith v. Avanti, 2017 WL 1284723, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5477 (D. Colo. Apr. 5, 2017), in favor of a same-sex couple, one of whom is transgender, in a housing sex discrimination case brought under the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. The plaintiffs, two women who have been married for more than five years and have two minor children, alleged that a landlord turned down their application to rent two residential properties because of their sex or gender identity, sexual orientation, and familial status. While the landlord initially seemed willing to rent to the couple, upon meeting them in person, she refused to rent to them because of their “uniqueness,” and because she feared doing so would jeopardize her position in the community.

According to plaintiffs’ 19-page complaint, Tonya and Rachel Smith (the Smiths) are a married lesbian couple. Rachel is a transgender woman, and since 2014 has taken steps to affirm her female gender identity. Together, they have two young sons, who, at the time of the complaint, were 5-years-old and 15-months-old. In or around April 2015, the Smith’s landlord at the time informed them that they needed to move out of their home because the property was going to be sold.

For the full story, access the May 2017 issue of LGBT Law Notes.