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Lesbian Couple Sues Vermont Town For Decade Of Discrimination

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A lesbian couple is suing Addison, Vt., for discrimination and intimidation they say has been going on since 2004.

Barbara Ernst and Barbara Supeno, commonly referred to by friends as “The Barbaras,” have been together for 21 years.

Their attorney, David Bond, says they moved into their lakefront property in 2004 and since then have been the target of harassment from other Addison residents who want to drive them out of town.

“It's entirely based on their sexual orientation,” Bond told WPTZ. “Neighbors insulted them, made obscene gestures to them. There were dead animals left on their property.”

Despite filing numerous complaints, the town refuses to respond to their grievances. Furthermore their property has come up twice during zoning meetings, and the couple was never informed.

The couple put up a fence in 2008 because they were fearful of the ongoing threats. Residents complained about their fence and a handicap ramp Supeno installed for her mother. Bond says Supeno tried to file the required forms for the ramp to avoid a $100 fine, but the town clerk refused to take the paperwork.

In April 2011, an anonymous letter was circulated throughout town titled “The truth about The Barbaras,” which alleged Ernst and Supeno were scam artists.

“It has been over 6 years that the Subject two women have been passing themselves off as involved citizens and very concerns about the town direction and in particular with Zoning, the school and the environment,” the letter said. “Beware: This is a totally phony perception that they have fabricated is a front to cover their devious and vicious behavior.”

A Middlebury, Vt., lawyer says he received a nasty letter allegedly from the couple refusing to pay him for services.

“We just thought we would give you a heads up as to our past games with previous attorneys in the state of VT and also lawyers in Middlebury,” the letter reads in part. “We love to play head games with them and give them a run for their money.”

The couple says they never sent such a letter.

Then someone spray-painted a homophobic slur on the pavement outside of twon offices.

The couple is suing Addison for defamation, false light invasion of privacy, tortious interference with prospective business relations, sexual orientation discrimination, common law retaliation and violations of common benefits clause.

Sources: ThinkProgress, WPTZ

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