The city council of Black Jack has upheld its closed-minded reputation by deciding not to change its laws to allow an unmarried couple with three children to live there.
Mayor Norman McCourt released a statement that makes no sense, explaining that the purpose of occupancy permits is to “avoid overcrowding by non-related parties, assure the lifelong maintenance of the cities (sic) housing stock, prevent new buyers from being obligated to repair residences that were not kept up to code, preserve the character of the neighborhoods and the city and to protect the general safety and welfare of the city’s residents.”
Here’s where he’s wrong:
- There’s no overcrowding in the case of Olivia Shelltrack and Fondray Loving. They bought a five-bedroom house to live in with their three children. Five people, five bedrooms. Plenty of room for everyone.
- Maintenance of the house has nothing to do with whether the couple is husband and wife. Longtime married couples aren’t necessarily more responsible with their homes than unwed couples (or newlyweds). If anyone isn’t keeping their house up to code, you act against the violators — you don’t launch a pre-emptive strike based on a marriage license.
- The marital status of the homeowners also has nothing to do with the safety and welfare of anyone else in the community.
What the Mayor and five members of the city council won’t admit is that this is all about imposing their morality on everyone else. That’s not their job.
What makes it even more hypocritical is that the current law that they’ve upheld would allow Olivia and Fondray to live in that house unmarried with one child, but not two or three. Or Olivia could live there with all three kids if Fondray wasn’t around. How does that make a better family situation? Shouldn’t we be encouraging families that include two loving, nurturing parents?
It will be interesting to see what the ACLU can do for them in court.
Here’s another column I wrote about the story three months ago.