Black Jack, Missouri and Morals

Readers may remember this post concerning the efforts of the mayor of Black Jack to deny an occupancy permit to an unmarried couple. Todays’ Post Dispatch has more.


In a previous situation similar to the one currently occuring the mayor had this to say:

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.

The person being denied the occupancy permit (Olivia Shelltrack) responds:

Shelltrack, who has lived with Loving for more than 13 years, said she found the letter offensive because it victimizes the children of unwed parents.
“Giving our kids a nice home is a priority. Putting them in a good school is a priority. Planning a wedding is not,” she said.
“It shouldn’t be anybody’s business,” she added. “As long as I’m paying taxes and I’m not breaking any laws and I’m not a criminal, and I mow my lawn, why would anyone care?”

11 Responses

  1. If the news papers would report what really happened this would never gotten this far. Ms. Shelltracks boyfriend Mr. Loving applied for a occupancy permit for him and the two youger children and did’nt included Ms. Shelltrack and her daughter. He lied on the application for occupancy and then tried to lie his way out of it.

  2. And your proof is…?

  3. The city of Black Jack is playing with semantics in order to discriminate. The ordinance, as I read it on the Black Jack web page, begs the question, if they had been accepted into this puritanical community with only one child, then had two more out of wedlock while living there, would they be forced out or forced to pay a fine?
    They ARE a family. They are a couple with children, not five college room mates, which I would like to think is the true purpose of this ordinance, though the Shelltrack/Loving situation is showing otherwise, and denying at this point that this is about marriage is ridiculous. If this weren’t about marriage, then the permit would have been issued when it was made evident that Shelltrack and Loving are not a group of rowdy kids or a group of illegals packing twenty people into a single family home.
    It is sad to think that in a nation built on individualism and freedom, that marital status would be held against a family. It is no one’s business whether or this couple is married or not. They are in a committed relationship and they have children together. They are as married as anyone else, and if they do not wish to invite the government or clergy into their relationship, it is not the city of Black Jack’s business to even ask why, or discriminate because of it.
    The argument of the two heads of household not being blood relations is shaky at best. A slip of paper does not create a blood relation. No married couple is related by blood unless Black Jack is so backward that people are still marrying their cousins. They have two children together, and those children each contain half of the genetic structure of their parents, Shelltrack and Loving. They share a bond as valid as any married couple’s. The child from a previous marriage is related to Ms.Shelltrack. How is this not a family?????????????
    If the city council rules against this family, I hope that the ACLU eats this city alive and Shelltrack/Loving end up owning it.

  4. I’m on the couple’s side in this, simply because it appears to me that if the City of Black Jack wants to legislate the morality of its citizens, it is morally obligated to make sure that all potential homebuyers and renters are informed that they will not be allowed to live in the community unless they are married. That way they can pretend their town is 100% moral and Godly and sin-free since everyone’s married, and those of us who don’t want to live with Philistines can look for housing elsewhere without wasting time on Black Jack.

  5. I’ve never heard of an “occupancy permit” in my life! It’s a way to “spin” the word discrimination.

  6. They are required in most of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Each municipality has their own requirements, but it usually involves an inspection of the property to make sure it is up to code. Personally, I think they are bullshit. If I buy a house, it’s my property and none of the governments business who lives there – and don’t get me started on all the other permits and fees these municipalities slap on residents.

  7. I say the couple take it to the U.S. Supreme Court. The city actions are unconstitutional! The family is being discriminated against based on creed!
    What kind of Quasi-Nazi Banana Republic standard does Black Jack have? This isn’t some tribal village in the jungle. This is America dammit!
    What city ever has residents apply for occupancy permits? Is it truely a city or some homogeneous compound?
    Even if Mr.Loving did lie, NO level of government can discriminate based on creed!!!
    If they choose not to marry, then so be it!!!

  8. It is an incorporated municipality – for all practical purposes it is a small city. It has a mayor and a board of alderman and all the other trappings of a city government. Occupency permits are quite common in the St. Louis and St. Louis County area (I have one). I’m not sure about the rest of the state…As far as I know they have not been challanged on constitutional grounds (but I could be wrong).

  9. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. Does the mayor of Black Jack realize that he is in America? People have thier right to freedom. Marriage is something that is a decision between two people. It’s not up to the city to decide who should or should not be married. All I can say is that I’m am so happy I don’t live in a town like Black Jack, MO with silly laws. I hope the very best for this family… Yes, they are a family no matter how city officials look at it. Come on, will a silly peice of paper that says “Marriage License”
    really change anything? They have been together for a long time, are raising their children, functioning like a family and loving each other like a family should. Leave them alone and find something else to pick at. I hope the very best for this family. But, I will make one good recommendation to the mayor…. If you are so worried about this couple and their marital status, maybe the city of Black Jack could fork out some money for this couple to
    tie the knot. Set them up with a nice wedding and reception. Give them money to go out and buy the rings and as a special gift from the mayor for being such a Ass from Black Jack, set up a college fund for the couples children. Maybe they can have you be wedding planner!

  10. The city council of Black Jack, MO must think it is 1866 and not 2006. The city council is clearly in violation of Title VIII of the US 1968 Civil Rights Act (i.e., Fair Housing Act). And if that does not quite cover it, I am sure that the U.S. Supreme Court would find that it of one of the other Civil Rights Acts and amendments does.
    Also the City is using some “hick” math in their own law based on the AP story I read. “The current ordinance prohibits more than three people from living together unless they are related by “blood, marriage, or adoption.” I believe Shelltrack and Loving have three children. Each parent is a blood relative to each child, as are all the kids to one another, and true the parents are not “related” by marriage, but that is only two not three people in the home not conforming to the ordinance. So it really seems like Black Jack has some other agenda.
    Personally, I feel they probably should get married, but it is really not my business or anyone elses what they do as long as they are not breaking any LEGAL laws. A morals clause in a occupancy permit (What ever that is? Sorry I live in CA) sounds like BS. I’d be more worried about having a household of single adults living together, two adults (M & F) and three kids sounds like family and desirable residents. If Mayor Norman McCourt is so concerned about the morality of Black Jack, MO, he should propose a city name change. Come on, Black Jack — it is a card game! Get real.

  11. I’d love to see some ACLU lawyer ass-rape this council in court, and have every gay couple, every single parent family, every blended family unit within a 500 mile radius show up in Ryder trucks and park their asses in every available piece of property in their scenic little burgh….
    They’d be so fucked the evening news would watch like a Michael Ninn porno….

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