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Lesbian Couple Alleges Bank Of America Discriminated Based On Sexual Orientation

Lesbian Couple Alleges Bank Of America Discriminated Based On Sexual Orientation

In the early spring of 2012, Patty Snyder and her partner Shelley (who asked to use only her first name) went house hunting in South Daytona, Fla. They found their dream location: A four-bedroom home with a new roof, a back porch and a fenced-in yard where they could help take care of their nieces and nephews. Better yet was the price: It was only $89,000.

To buy the house, Snyder applied for the $90,000 loan with Bank of America and used Shelley’s mother — whom she calls her mother-in-law — as a co-signer. For most loans, mortgage co-signers do not need to be related to the buyer, leading the couple to believe there would be no problem in getting approved. Shelley was not on the loan as she was unemployed at the time.

But the day before the couple was scheduled to close, the bank denied the loan, saying the relationship between Snyder and Shelley’s mother was not approved, according to Snyder. “I was furious,” Snyder told The Huffington Post in a phone call. “All along, [the loan officer] told us there were no issues to the loan … they told us to schedule the closing.”

Snyder and Shelley felt the case was clear discrimination by Bank of America because they are a same-sex couple, and they sent their case to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The government’s housing watchdog agency took up their case as evidence of a violation of new anti-discrimination laws, and — unbeknownst to the couple — came to its first enforcement decision against Bank of America. Under a new rule enacted by HUD last year, lenders cannot use sexual orientation as criteria for loan eligibility.

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