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Boulder Couple Claims Discrimination In Apartment Search

By Karen Morfitt

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- A local couple is suing a property owner in Boulder County, claiming discrimination.

Rachel and Tonya Smith say they started searching for a home for their family last march. They knew it would be a challenge considering the housing market but never imagined it would be one that ended up in court.

"She said that she didn't want us to live there because it would damage her reputation in the community because we would be too much of a draw, I suppose," Rachel said.

Tonya and Rachel Smith (credit: CBS)

Rachel is transgender and that coupled with their now same-sex marriage is what they believe kept them from being considered for an apartment in Gold Hill.

They have since filed a lawsuit claiming the property owner, Deepika Avanti, violated the fair housing act and the Colorado Discrimination Act.

Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan is representing the couple.

"Discrimination against people on their bases of their sex, their sexual orientation, gender identity or familial status is illegal," said Gonzalez-Pagan.

The lawsuit refers to emails allegedly sent by Avanti, in which she tells the Smiths "Your unique relationship would become the town focus."

And that it would "Invite everyone... into my business and would jeopardize what I have had for 30 years."

"It was horrifying it was shocking it was very it was very upsetting," Tonya said about reading the email.

CBS4's Karen Morfitt interviews Omar Gonzales-Pagan (credit: CBS)

The couple has since found a rental and hope that sharing their story, despite what happens with their case, will inspire change

"It's an awful feeling and I don't want anyone to go through what we went through," she said.

Karen Morfitt Joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around metro Denver. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.

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