Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Oppression of Heterosexual Couples

In Black Jack, MO--a suburb of St. Louis--straight couples with multiple children can't live together if they aren't married. Hopefully, this intrusion into the private lives of heterosexual adults will, after the inevitable comparisons to the gay marriage issue, persuade some that traditional views of relationships should not be imposed by the government.

The Black Jack ordinance, oddly enough, would allow a gay couple plus one child to live together (though I don't know anything about the other local laws), but would actually prevent a group of four friends from being roommates:
The current ordinance prohibits more than three people from living together unless they are related by "blood, marriage or adoption." The defeated measure would have changed the definition of a family to include unmarried couples with two or more children.

The law not only oppresses some heterosexual couples, it's bad for poor people who can't afford to live alone. How could anyone think this was a good idea?


Blogger Matthew said...

I think you mean MO, not MI, for the state abbreviation.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Ann Althouse said...

"How could anyone think this was a good idea?"

They might want to keep poor people out of their town.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

matthew: fixed.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Ann must be on to something.

If their issue is morality, then it makes no sense to allow the unmarried parents of a single child to cohabit.

And if the issue is one of tradition or convention, then one would assume that these types of busybodies would explicitly prevent gay couples from cohabiting in their little Harper Valley.

The only interpretation that really makes sense is that they believe this is a good way to keep out or throw out poor or lower class people.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

Jennifer: I don't know if there would be a constitutional way for them to forbid gay couples from living together, especially given that their legal status is no different than two roommates. Perhaps a constitutional law expert would be able to answer this one.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Chris: I hadn't thought of that. But, frankly, I'm surprised that they can dictate the required relationships for any adult cohabitants.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

Jennifer: The answer is that they aren't...sort of. The ordinance only has to do with households of four or more people. If two people want to live together, with no other people in the house, this has nothing to do with them. Once it's at four people, they have to be blood relatives or married, regardless of the type of relationship they have.

2:21 AM  
Blogger Freeman Hunt said...

I wonder if this law was enacted because of morality or because the town was having a problem with large groups of people cramming into single family dwellings.

Either way, it's a bad law.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous todd said...

From a USA Today article:

"Nationally, definitions of 'family' in zoning laws are widespread and are generally designed to prevent fraternity houses and boarding houses in single-family neighborhoods."

12:16 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

Todd: Interesting. Wouldn't it be better, then, to place restrictions on the number of unrelated adults who can live together? The law is designed to hurt children.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Todd, from the same article:

"The easiest resolution to cure the situation would be for them to get married," McCourt wrote to the ACLU at the time. "Our community believes this is the appropriate way to raise a family."

Emphasis added.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous todd said...

My comment was not meant to defend the town's refusal to remedy the situation, but rather to add some context that some of the commenters did not seem aware of. It seems to me that (some) town officials are using a law that was likely enacted for an entirely different reason to forward their moral agenda regarding families.

There are a number of ways to amend the law so that it wouldn't discriminate against unmarried couples.

2:16 PM  

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