Letter: Unpleasant Welcome

Two weeks ago my husband and I had our things moved to what we expected would be a nice new apartment in Cold Spring. It was a “mother-in-law suite” near but not attached to the landlord’s home. My husband went with the truck and I stayed in New Hampshire for work reasons. That was a Monday. On Tuesday the landlord saw my husband’s “My God Loves LBGT!” button on his camera bag. He asked what it was about. My husband said he supports gay rights. The landlord asked if he was gay. My husband said, “Yes, I’m bisexual.”

On Wednesday we were evicted because, according to the landlord, “it’s unhealthy for my children to be around such people.” We removed our belongings from the property and put them in storage. We are stunned that such a thing happened in Cold Spring. We are now staying at a friend’s home looking for a place to live.

Karen Gorst, Cold Spring

The editor responds: New York state law forbids landlords from discriminating against tenants on the basis of age, race, national origin, gender, marital status, disability, military status or sexual orientation. (There is one exception: rental units in two-family homes occupied by the owner are not subject to the law.) At the federal level, the Fair Housing Act protects renters from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability and the presence of children but not sexual orientation.

24 thoughts on “Letter: Unpleasant Welcome

  1. The landlord broke the law. I hope the Highlands Current stays on this story and updates us about any legal action against the landlord. Absolutely abhorrent.

    • What saddens me is the reply from the editor, explaining how it doesn’t break the law.

    • I must’ve misinterpreted the editor’s note. “There is one exception: rental units in two-family homes occupied by the owner are not subject to the law.” The letter writer stated their apartment was near but not attached to the landlord’s home, therefore I would think the landlord is not exempt from the law.

    • How does it not break the law? It’s discrimination. Plain and simple, and out there for the world to see.

  2. It’s Cold Spring. There are so many stories floating around about its narrow-mindedness and prejudice. I heard so much about it when I worked down there. I always put it off as hearsay. Maybe I was wrong.

  3. I lived in Cold Spring/Nelsonville for 15 years, and I have to say, I never experienced or witnessed anything like this. (Many, many residents were part of the LGBTQ community, but I don’t know if that’s still the case; I left and moved to Beacon in 2010.) I was acutely aware, however, of how lily white it was, and I always hated that.

    • I should add that I knew racism and bigotry ran deep, but it was rarely spoken out loud. It was a weird place to live. I loved it, but there was a lot I didn’t love about it. And from the moment I got here, I felt more at home in Beacon than anywhere else I’ve lived.

  4. This is shocking. This does not represent the values of Cold Spring or Philipstown. This landlord should be ashamed, and the laws protecting their bigotry must be overturned.

  5. Whoa! Hard to believe anyone around here still has that mindset. This was a golden opportunity to teach children an appreciation/acceptance of differences which make our world so interesting. Really sad. And illegal.

  6. We will be happy to help you find a new home in Cold Spring. Please be sure to file a lawsuit against this landlord!

  7. If you can prove the landlord actually said that and had you evicted because your husband’s bisexuality, you should take him to court. As for being shocked that this happened in Cold Spring, you shouldn’t be. It’s a much more conservative place than you think. Much like Beacon, Cold Spring has old and new.

  8. As a bisexual person in a heterosexual marriage, this hits entirely too close to home. Great reminder to keep reaching out to each other as neighbors, trying earnestly to connect and understand one another.

  9. If I lived in a two-family home, I would not want to rent to a homophobe, among other things.

  10. I’ve had my shop on Main Street for awhile and have lived around here for many years. I have always found Cold Spring to be what I consider on the liberal end of the political spectrum so I am therefore shocked at this story. Somehow it doesn’t ring true with the Cold Spring that I know.

    There is no mention of whether the writer is going to take legal action against the landlord. That’s another thing — we live in such a litigious society that I can’t imagine any landlord talking like that to a prospective tenant.

  11. Evicted? The landlord went to a court and filed for eviction, or the landlord… actually it’s absolutely unclear what the landlord did, isn’t it? The tenant had possession. What the heck happened after that?

  12. I have been burned believing that a letter to the editor amounts to truth-saying. Are we sure about the accuracy of this account? I am not. I have overreacted in the past, usually out of some sense of moral outrage. In this political climate, it is easy to respond in such a way. But in this case, I doubt we know the whole story.

    • Regardless of the accuracy or nuance of this occurrence, the editor’s response clearly states that in New York, housing discrimination remains legal in cases of two-family, owner-occupied homes. That itself is unsettling. If New York is unable to protect all of its citizens in all cases of discrimination, Philipstown must.

  13. As fairly frequent visitors to Cold Spring from Carmel, my wife and I always found the fairly small community to be very inclusive, intellectual and accepting. Ms. Gorst and her husband’s experience, sadly, suggests that there are folks in the community who just don’t get it.

    I would hope that nobody rents the “mother-in-law suite” that the obviously prejudiced landlord owns. I would further hope that the location of this injustice would be the location of picketing and protest.

    I would hope that local officials might comb their records and make sure that this landlord has dotted the “i”s and crossed the “t”s of each and every regulation required to undertake his landlord status within the confines of Cold Spring.

    Lastly, this individual should be treated to the same prejudice that he professes when and if this individual should endeavor to engage in commercial commerce within the community.

    Concurrently, I would hope that there are other landlords, within the Cold Spring community, that will embrace this family that wishes to engage with the Cold Spring community.

    • I thought the law of the land was “innocent till proven guilty,” even in Cold Spring.

      Without even knowing if this story is true (and personally I am beginning to think there’s more to this than meets the eye), I fail to see how anyone could advocate such extreme measures that amount to a modern day lynch mob.