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Anorak | Family Values

Family Values

by | 30th, May 2006

You would call him a Nazi, a little Hitler, a traffic warden. You would bang on about the Town Hall Taliban and threaten to call Esther Rantzen or worse, if there is worse.

For Olivia Shelltrack this is a reality. Shelltrack does not live in Syria, a remote part of Pakistan or Cheltenham – she lives in the United States, the land of the free.

Specifically, she lives in lives in Black Jack, a suburb of St Louise, Missouri. She, Foundray Loving, her partner of 13 years, the two children they have together and Ms Shelltrack’s daughter from a previous relationship bought a home in the area back in January.

Then the inspector came over to investigate their “occupancy permit”. Ms Shelltrack thought this was a “housing code issue” (this is the basic legal tools for ensuring that homes are healthy and safe).

“But we figured something was wrong when they asked for the children’s birth certificates and a marriage certificate,” she says.

The local ordinance prevents more than three people from living together unless they are related by “blood, marriage or adoption”. The family do not comply. They are not fit and proper. They should leave. Or stay and face fines and a court fight.

“I think the city wants to send a clear message that they don’t want children born out of wedlock,” says Shelltrack. “It has become a moral issue for them. They see family in a certain way and that’s the only acceptable way.”

Sheldon Stock, the town’s attorney, says that Black Jack intends to enforce its ordinances and “we think under the current state of the law that we have every right to do so”.

But why is there such a law? Mayor Norman McCourt explains. “It’s nothing unusual to have these particular type of laws,” says she. “Basically it’s to prevent overcrowding. Legislating morality was never the intention.” But what then of the case in 1999 when an unmarried couple with 3-year-old triplets were denied an occupancy permit in the town?

“The easiest resolution to cure the situation would be for them to get married,” McCourt wrote at the time, as reported by USA Today. “Our community believes this is the appropriate way to raise a family.”

Just as long as they’re not legislating morals, then…



Posted: 30th, May 2006 | In: Reviews Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink