ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A federal judge nominated to the bench by then-President George H.W. Bush has dismissed a lawsuit against a Christian retirement village that denied an application from two lesbian women due to its longstanding Bible-based cohabitation policy that only allows married men and women or siblings to share a dwelling.
Attorneys for the women had argued that Friendship Village in St. Louis had engaged in unlawful sex discrimination—that is, denying the request because the two were both female—but U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton found that the situation should rather be classified as “sexual orientation” discrimination and not “sex” discrimination.
Since “sexual orientation” isn’t a protected class under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to precedent from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, nor the Fair Housing Act, the lawsuit could not stand.
“At no time do plaintiffs assert that had they been men involved in a same-sex relationship or marriage, they would have been admitted as residents in Friendship Village,” she wrote, explaining why the sex discrimination argument is not valid. “Under these circumstances, the court finds the claims boil down to those of discrimination based on sexual orientation rather than sex alone.”
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