August 20, 2018 — It wasn’t like Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance hadn’t done their homework. They had visited Friendship Village Sunset Hills, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in St. Louis, MO many times. They had dinner with friends who lived there. They especially liked the continuum of care offered by a CCRC, and the ability to age in place no matter what the future might bring. The people they met seemed friendly and they both felt comfortable; this was the ideal place for their retirement. Soon they had negotiated a deal on a $235,000 two bedroom apartment, and put down a small deposit.
Then the trouble started. Management of this faith-based, non-denominational non-profit wanted to know what the relationship was between the two women. Answer, the two women had been married since 2009. Then the deal had a hiccough, and ultimately their application was turned down, based on its cohabitation policy, which was limited to siblings, parents and children, or spouses. Like any retirees should, the couple obviously had done a lot of homework in deciding where they wanted to live. In spite of that they were blindsided.
Since then women have sued the CCRC, alleging sex discrimination. According to the NY Times, in the community’s policy: “The term ‘marriage’ as used in this policy means the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible”.
The case is similar in some ways to the famous one going on now having to do with a baker who refused to provide a cake for a gay couple, based on religious reasons.
Mary and Beverly still want to live in Friendship Hills, despite all this. Earlier, according to the Times, they had been interested in a Lutheran retirement community. After asking an administrator if there would be a problem with a married lesbian couple entering that community, he said: “No”, and looked at me like, “Why would you ask me such a silly question?”
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For further reading
Check out the LGBT category in the Topretirements Blog. You can also search for LGBT oriented communities in our Advanced Search (Private Communities), where we have 11 such communities listed)