Federal fair housing law protects LGBT couples, court rules for first time

Rachel (left) and Tonya Smith. /Courtesy Lambda Legal

By Fred Barbash | The Washington Post

A federal judge, in a first, ruled Wednesday that the federal law barring housing discrimination protects LGBT people.

The married couple who brought the case — Rachel Smith, a transgender woman, and Tonya Smith — were denied a rental townhouse along with their two children by a landlord who gave as a reason their “unique relationship,” they claimed in court.

The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to rent or sell housing to anyone because of “sex, familial status, or national origin.” But since it says nothing about sexual orientation or gender identity, questions remained regarding whether LGBT people are covered. The answer, an increasingly common one in anti-discrimination cases, was yes. It came from Judge U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore in Denver.

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