It's a story I've been following for some time, Black Jack, MO's War on Moms. Let's do some catch up. This is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Olivia Shelltrack finally has her dream home. Her family moved into the five-bedroom, three-bath frame house in [the Missouri town of] Black Jack last month. But now she fears she and her fiance face uprooting their children because of a city ordinance that says her household fails to meet Black Jack's definition of a family.
Shelltrack and Fondray Loving, her boyfriend of 13 years, were denied an occupancy permit because of an ordinance forbidding three or more individuals from living together if they are not related by "blood, marriage or adoption." The couple have three children, ages 8, 10 and 15, although Loving is not the biological father of the oldest child.
"' was basically told, you can have one child living in your house if you're not married, but more than that, you can't," she said.
Basically, Black Jack has made unmarried families illegal. And yesterday, they voted to keep it illegal. From the Kansas City Star:
BLACK JACK, Mo. - The city council in the St. Louis County town Black Jack has rejected a measure that would have changed the definition of a family to include unmarried couples with two or more children.
The measure was rejected Tuesday in a 5-3 vote. As a result, Mayor Norman McCourt said in a statement that those who do not meet the town's definition of family could soon face eviction.
"The purpose of these occupancy permit laws generally is to avoid overcrowding by non-related parties, assure the lifelong maintenance of the city's 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," the statement read. He declined to be interviewed.
That last paragraph is bullshit. In an earlier story, the Post-Dispatch reported, "...in a November 1999 letter he wrote regarding a similar but unrelated case involving the unwed parents of triplets, McCourt makes specific comments about the city's 'morals and standards.'
"Black Jack officials and residents 'do not believe that an unmarried couple having children residing in our community is an appropriate standard that they wish to approve,' he wrote.
"'The easiest resolution to cure the situation would be for them to be married,' McCourt later wrote of the couple, who challenged the rejection of their occupancy permit. The letter is addressed to the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, which defended the couple in municipal court.
"'I believe the City has acted appropriately in keeping with the law, consistent with our community's morals and standards, and that we will continue to enforce our ordinances to protect the interests of our community,' McCourt wrote."
According to the Star story, Black Jack resident Rose Curtis spoke to their reporter. "As a woman, I'm not going to let a man have babies by me and not marry me," Curtis said. "I think it was a fair decision. It's cut and dried." Not that she really needs to worry about that - she's sixty-five years old.
So, if you have an opportunity to spend a dime in Black Jack, MO, turn it down. They don't deserve our business.