Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Missouri town may evict unmarried couple

Back in January I was training a local company. I went to lunch with one of the people I was training, a very religious man. He had one of the local religious stations on the radio (we drove in his vehicle). They were mentioning the Chief Justice Roberts confirmation hearings. He said to me that it was about time the country swung further to the right. As a Canadian I already find the U.S. leaning too far to the right. So do most of my American friends. When the client made his comment, I wondered how much further to the right the country could go.

Well, here's a step further: a Missouri town had denied an occupancy permit to an unmarried couple and their children. Alana sent me this news story:

An earlier story can be found here:

Olivia Shelltrack and Fondray Loving have been together for 13 years. They have three children, ages 8, 10 and 15. The oldest is Shelltrack's child from a previous relationship (not sure if she was previously married). Black Jack, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, has an occupancy law that says no more than three people can live together unless related "blood, marriage or adoption." Because the couple is not married, the oldest child is not related to Loving, so that apparently trips over the law.

This first came to notice back in February, when the couple said they were appealing the law. The town's planning and zoning committee proposed a change to the bylaw, but it was voted down 5 to 3 by the city council.

The family could be evicted, though the lawyer for the town refused to say whether or not that will happen.

So in this country of liberty a city can evict a family from their home because they are not married?

So, if you're not religious and you have no pressing need to get a certificate from city hall, you can be turfed out of the home you bought?

The city ordinance is to make it illegal for people to cram a home full of people they are not related to. Uh, are frat houses really that big a deal? Maybe it's their way of fighting crack houses. Regardless, they couldn't word their bylaw to allow for families? Or is there some other agenda at work; I'm guessing that they wouldn't be at all bothered if the bylaw prevented a lesbian family from moving in.

In Canada, a couple can be considered to be married common law if they reside together for a certain number of years. I think it might be as little as two or three years. I guess there's no such law in Missouri.

I was reminded of Pierre Trudeau's famous statement when I read this story, and back in March, when I learned (again from Alana) that Mississippi had outlawed the sale of sex toys. This ban is in spite of provisions in the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said in 1967 (when he was Justice Minister), "There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." He also said, "What's done in private between two consenting adults doesn't concern the Criminal Code." With the U.S.'s current conservative tilt, I don't expect to hear any American politician in any real position of power saying the same thing any time soon.

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