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Evansville lesbian couple win damages after cites ‘religion’ for not renting to them

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A property management company in Evansville, Ind., has to pay $41,000 in penalties and damages after refusing to rent a home to a lesbian couple.

The Evansville Courier & Press reported that the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Human Relations Commission ruled in favor of Kimberly and Chasity Scott in their 2020 filing against Myers Family Rentals.

The newspaper said while it’s normal for cases of anti-LGBTQ discrimination to be filed with the commission, this was the first time a case had reached a public hearing.

Commission Executive Director Diane Clements-Boyd told the Courier & Press that most other probable cause cases “are conciliated or settled prior to a public hearing.” The hearing in the Scotts’ case was held in July.

According to the newspaper, the Scotts had looked at a rental home in May 2020, which had been advertised to the general public. A member of the Myers family asked the couple if they “together, together” or “lesbian.” The Scotts said yes and the company refused to rent the home to them. The Scotts wound up renting a home in Henderson, Ky.

According to the commission’s findings, Myers Family Rentals admitted that they “do not rent to people who choose to live as boyfriend and girlfriend, fiancés, male or female homosexuals, polygamous, polyamorous, or any other relationship that denies God’s requirement … that marriage be between one man and one woman.”

The commission voted unanimously that the rental company had basically admitted they would have rented the house to the Scotts if they were a heterosexual married couple.

According to the ruling, Myers Family Rentals must: 

  • Pay $16,000 in civil penalties to the Human Relations Commission.
  • Pay $15,000 in damages to the Scotts for the couple’s “increased gas, mileage and utility charges incurred as a result of being denied this housing opportunity.”
  • Pay $5,000 to Kimberly Scott and $5,000 to Chasity Scott for emotional distress caused by (the company’s) discriminatory practices.”
  • Cease and desist all practices that violate local, state and federal laws.

Luke Myers of Myers Family Rentals emailed a statement to the Courier & Press claiming his business’s religious freedom had been violated. In the statement, he said that the ruling “effectively forbids the practice of the Christian religion where God is the authority and seeks to impose the practice of the religion of secular humanism, or statism where the individual, or the state, is the authority of final appeal.”

The Tri-State Alliance (TSA), a local LGBTQ rights organization, was thrilled with the ruling.

“TSA is pleased by this ruling, and it also shows that discrimination still exists locally. It is so important that people stand up in the face of discrimination. We thank the Scott family for taking this stand,” the group said on their Facebook page.

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