Tonya and Rachel Smith are two women who say their prospectivelandlord wasn’t exactly welcoming.
The Smiths, married five years now,and their two kids were in search of a new home in the tiny hamlet of Gold Hill, Colorado. When they found a cozy two bedroom advertised online, they jumped on it. So, the owner of that home, Deepika Avanti, agreed to show the Smiths the house.
That much everyone can agree on. From there, however, things get less certain.
The Smiths allege that Avanti was willing to meet with them and show them not just the cozy two bedroom but another home that Avanti owned that was also available, too. But, when the Smiths met with Avanti in person,something changed, they say.
“Despite [Avanti’s] apparent initial willingness to rent one of theproperties to the Smith family, [Avanti] refused to rent either of the homes to the Smith family after meeting,” their lawsuit, filed in federal court, states.
In a curious bit of trivia, LGBT news site The New Civil Rights Movement reported that Avanti has a YouTube channel wherein she “claims she gets vision” and that “she can see diseases coming from up to eight years away!” The YouTube channel describes Avanti as a “holistic therapist” and “psychic healer.”
The Smiths are being represented by Lambda Legal, an LGBTlegal advocacy organization.
Lambda claims that Avanti”told Tonya and Rachel that she would be unable to rent any of the properties to them because of their ‘uniqueness’ and that she believed that renting a home to the Smith family would jeopardize her position in the community.”The Smiths’ lawyers also claim that Avanti suggested the family look for housing in a “larger town.”
Gold Hill has a population of 230, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The lawsuit adds thatAvanti emailed the Smiths and said she sought counsel from another psychic about their situation and “has a transvestite friend herself,” according to the Daily Camera newspaper there.
Rachel Smith is a transgender woman.
For her part, Avanti denies up and down that her refusal to rent to the Smiths was discriminatory.
“It had nothing to do with their sexuality or anything like that,” Avantitold the Daily Camera. “It had to do with noise levels.”
The Smiths attorney, Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, rejected that, pointing to Avanti’sallegedemails.
“Worrying about what the neighbors will say is no excuse for discrimination,” Gonzalez-Pagan said. “Tonya and Rachel Smith are loving spouses and parents whose ideal home was denied to them because they are same-sex couple with kids and Rachel is transgender.”