Lesbian Couple Sues Over Housing Discrimination In Colorado

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Rachel and Tonya SmithRachel and Tonya Smith

In April 2015, Rachel and Tonya Smith and their two children, ages 6 and 2, were looking for an affordable apartment in Gold Hill, Colorado, just outside of Boulder, when they came across a listing offered by Deepika Avanti.

The Smiths are a lesbian couple and Rachel is transgender, but they didn’t believe it would be an issue while home-hunting in the liberal area. Rachel told CBS 4 that Avanti told the couple “she didn’t want us to live there because it would damage her reputation in the community because we would be too much of a draw, I suppose.”

The couple is now suing Avanti for violating the federal Fair Housing Act and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, seeking compensatory and punitive damages and demanding Avanti take fair housing training, Denver Post reported.

“Discrimination against people on their bases of their sex, their sexual orientation, gender identity or familial status is illegal,” said the couple’s attorney, Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, according to CBS 4.

In an email, Avanti allegedly told the couple that “your unique relationship would become the town focus,” and it would “invite everyone … into my business and would jeopardize what I have had for 30 years,” reported CBS 4.

Avanti claims she didn’t deny the couple a lease on the basis of their relationship, according to Denver Post. "I have another couple in there, and it would have been way too noisy,” she said, adding that the couple’s children were “quite hyper.”

"It had nothing to do with their sexuality or anything like that," Avanti said. "It had to do with noise levels. I live at that house. It would have been too noisy for me. I am one of the housemates there.

"It was just too many bodies in too small a space.”

However, Gonzalez-Pagan says worries about loud children "is not an excuse" and that "saying the kids are too noisy is discriminatory, based on the familial status they have,” reported Denver Post.

The family is now living in nearby Aurora, Colorado, according to Denver Post, but they’re proceeding with legal action. “It’s an awful feeling and I don’t want anyone to go through what we went through,” Tonya said, reported CBS 4.

Sources: CBS 4, Denver Post / Photo credit: CBS 4