Smith v. Avanti
Lambda Legal filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against a Boulder County property owner who violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to rent a housing unit she owns in Gold Hill, Colorado, to a same-sex couple, one of whom is transgender, and their children because she worried their “uniqueness” would jeopardize her standing in the community.
Tonya and Rachel Smith are a loving, committed same-sex couple living in Colorado. They have been married for more than five years and have two children, ages six and two. Rachel is also transgender. In early 2015, Tonya and Rachel were looking to find a new home for their young family. In April 2015, they located a two-bedroom duplex in the community of Gold Hill, Colorado, that seemed to meet all of their needs – affordable, lots of outdoor space where their children could play, and near a small, high quality public school. After meeting the landlord, Deepika Avanti, and touring both that unit and a three-bedroom unit on the same property, Tonya and Rachel believed they had located their ideal house.
However, within hours, Avanti emailed Tonya and Rachel and informed them she would not be renting either unit to them, because she thought their “unique relationship” would become the focus of discussion in town and would harm her position in the community. She added that she had kept a low profile for 30 years, but that would no longer be possible if she rented to them due to Tonya and Rachel’s “uniqueness.”
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, asserts that Avanti engaged in discrimination on the basis of sex and familial status, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. It also asserts that Avanti discriminated against Tonya and Rachel on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status, in violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.
- January 2016 Lambda Legal files suit.
- June 2016 Lambda Legal moves for summary judgement.
- April 5 2017 Victory! Court rules landlord discriminated against LGBT family.
- April 7 2017 Plaintiffs move to dismiss case following settlement agreement requiring payment of damages, adoption of nondiscrimination policy and training.
Tonya and Rachel Smith
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Staff Attorney
Karen Loewy, Senior Attorney
Holland & Hart, LLP
Benjamin N. Simler
Matthew P. Castelli