Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance sued Friendship Village for sex discrimination in July 2018, after the faith-based facility rejected their housing application, citing its cohabitation policy that defines marriage as between “one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights — which filed the case on the couple’s behalf, along with St. Louis attorney Arlene Zarembka and civil rights law firm Relman Colfax — announced Tuesday evening [8 December 2020] that the lawsuit had been resolved.
“Housing is essential for everyone and can be a huge source of stress as we age,” National Center for Lesbian Rights senior staff attorney Julie Wilensky said in a statement. “No one should have to fear being turned away from a retirement community because they are LGBTQ.”
The women at the center of the landmark legal case, Walsh, 74, and Nance, 70, have been partners for more than four decades and were married in 2009.
Walsh and Nance appealed the decision — and in June, the U.S. Supreme Court jump-started the case, when it ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ employees from sex discrimination. The Supreme Court decision allowed the lawsuit against Friendship Village to be reinstated in District Court, where the two parties were able to reach a confidential settlement.