Gay Couple Sues Vermont Town Over Decade Of Alleged Discrimination

A town in Vermont is at the center of a recent lawsuit alleging that the community consistently discriminated against a gay couple.

Barbara Ernst and Barbara Supeno, a lesbian couple in Addison, is suing the town for more than a decade of alleged discrimination, according to local reports. Ernst and Supeno's lawyer, David Bond, said that the town has tried to push the women out since they moved to Addison in 2004.

"It's entirely based on their sexual orientation," Bond told local TV station WPTZ. "Neighbors insulted them, made obscene gestures to them. There were dead animals left on their property."

Now, the pair, who do not want to move, are asking for some peace and seeking damages for their suffering.

Ernst and Supeno filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, naming head of the local zoning committee Jeff Kaufmann, who also serves as a Baptist Minister, as a codefendant in the case. The suit, which also includes two neighbors as codefendants, lays out six counts, ranging from defamation to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The discrimination case may come as a surprise to some, based on its location in such a progressive state. Gay marriage is currently legal in Vermont, which enacted a statute to allow same-sex couples to wed in 2009. The northeastern state also became the first in the U.S. to allow civil unions in 2000.

By bringing the discrimination suit against the Vermont town, Ernst and Supeno are seeking to set a precedent.

"Their hope is this lawsuit will change things," Bond told Fox 44. "Civil rights laws are very favorable in recognizing in that there shouldn't be discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and they never expected they would be moving into this hotbed of hatred."



Gay Rights Movement Through The Years