A married Kentucky couple says their landlord, who is also a member of local government, both assaulted and evicted them from their apartment after she learned they were gay.
Joshua Melton and his husband, James Feltner, said they never had a problem with Manchester City Council Member Esther Thompson, who owns the townhome they’d been living in for about nine months, until mid-June, WYMT reports. At that point, the men claim Thompson told them that she “should have never rented to the faggots,” and gave them just 24 hours to leave the apartment.
The news channel did not locate an official eviction notice. Instead, they found a complaint that Thompson filed in July, seeking $2,500 from Melton and Feltner, saying that the couple had “violated their lease in many ways,” including having six dogs.
“In my 30 years in the rental property business, this is, by far, one of the worst I have seen,” Thompson wrote in the complaint. Her claims were supported by a local contractor, who told Clay Co News that the apartment’s entire floor needs to be replaced before the unit can be rented again.
The men denied Thompson’s claim, saying the landlord was aware that they only have three dogs. They also said they reached out to the Kentucky Equality Federation because they were unable to get help from local officials, including Clay County Attorney Clay Bishop, Jr., in regard to what they believe was a wrongful eviction.
Federation representatives blasted the case in a lengthy blog post on their website, arguing that Melton and Feltner were not only “unlawfully evicted” but also assaulted by Thompson. The alleged assault, they wrote, required an “emergency room visit” for Melton, who sustained a “head injury.”
Thompson, they alleged, told witnesses she “owned the police” as a member of local government. Meanwhile, they claimed that Bishop is also Thompson’s private attorney and would be unlikely to help Melton and Feltner because of this conflict of interest.
Bishop dismissed those claims in an interview with WYMT, saying that he had, in fact, filed a criminal complaint against Thompson after she allegedly assaulted Melton. The news channel included a copy of that complaint in their report, which can be viewed below.
Bishop told The Huffington Post that he has never privately represented Thompson, who he said pleaded not guilty to the assault allegations Aug. 8 and is due back in court Oct. 3.
“I’m not sure whether [the couple] thought that we could jail her ... we don’t make that choice,” he said. “I understand people’s anger and frustrations, but to [accuse] every official in the city and the county of being non-responsive is inaccurate.”
The location of the case is, sadly, all too familiar for many LGBT rights activists. Kentucky was at the epicenter of a media firestorm last year after Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June ruling on marriage equality.
Calling the coincidence “unfortunate,” the Kentucky Equality Federation’s Jordan Palmer noted, “We won’t tolerate [discrimination] in any part of the commonwealth.”
Attempts to reach Thompson via the city of Manchester were unsuccessful.