In red California, LGBTQ people still feel under threat. ‘There’s no safe place anywhere’
For the first time in nearly 20 years — the year in which California abolished LGBT discrimination in housing and employment — a lesbian couple has been evicted from a Los Angeles apartment owned by a company that does business with the state. Their case has sparked a national trend in LGBT equality: A growing wave of anti-discrimination lawsuits that have exposed the state’s discriminatory record.
The dispute began in 2014, when the couple moved into a house owned by Redfin, a real estate company that ranks the value of homes by potential buyers, and were forced to leave. With the help of a neighbor, a gay couple filed a discrimination lawsuit against Redfin in July 2015.
By the time the case reached a jury trial in August 2016, the apartment complex’s attorneys had turned over financial records, police reports and other documents, all of which were read by the judge and jury, all of which cast doubt on the company’s assertion that it had ever discriminated against the couple.
In the end, the case was settled, and the couple settled back with Redfin. The case cost them almost $3 million, the price of the house they had been forced to leave. But, at least for now, it proved a landmark: After nearly two decades of court battles against discrimination, gay Americans won the right to live in places that are safe.
The same can’t always be said for lesbians and gay men today. In California, where an estimated 1,400 LGBTQ people were evicted from apartment complexes in 2015, three lesbian couples have sued the state in recent months, only to have their cases thrown out and their apartments ordered to be returned to them.
California’s anti-discrimination laws, which allow people to sue for the denial of housing, work differently for transgender and gender non-conforming adults than they do