GET married or get out!
That’s the message the small town of Black Jack, Mo., is sending to Olivia Shelltrack and her partner of 13 years, Fondray Loving. City officials say the unmarried couple, who have three children, are breaking a town ordinance by living together out of wedlock — and they could face fines of up to $500 a day if they don’t get hitched or pack up and leave!
“We bought a home in Black Jack, hoping to raise our children in a quiet, friendly town with quality schools,” 31-year-old Olivia told The ENQUIRER. “We came with our family’s best interests at heart, but city officials refuse to recognize that because we don’t fit their definition of a family.”
A 1985 Black Jack ordinance prohibits more than three people from living together in the same house if they are not related by blood, marriage or adoption.
Olivia and Fondray, 33, have vowed to fight the unfair ordinance not only for their family, but for other families who are being discriminated against as well.
“This family is not being singled out or discriminated against,” Black Jack city attorney Sheldon Stock told The ENQUIRER. “All housing codes employ a definition of family, and, unfortunately, this family happens to fall on the wrong side of that line based on this town’s definition.”
In 1999, when an unmarried couple with triplets was fighting the same ordinance, Mayor McCourt wrote a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, which The ENQUIRER has obtained.
The mayor wrote: “The easiest resolution to cure the situation would be for them to be married. Our community believes that this is the appropriate way to raise a family.”
Rather than battle the city in the court, the couple with the triplets moved out of town.
For now, Olivia and Fondray have no plans to tie the knot – or leave the home they worked so hard for.
“We may not meet Black Jack’s definition of a family,” said Olivia, “but we are raising our children and conducting ourselves in a way that best suits our family. Nobody has the right to tell us otherwise, and we will fight this to the bitter end.”