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Definition of family declared unconstitutional

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BATON ROUGE - District Court Judge Janice Clark declared the East Baton Rouge Parish's definition of family unconstitutional.

Before today, three or more unrelated people could not live together in neighborhoods zoned for single-family housing. Since 1954, East Baton Rouge's Unified Development Code has defined family as "an individual or two or more persons who are related by blood, marriage or legal adoption living together and occupying a single housekeeping unit with single culinary facility."

Judge Clark's ruling would allow families such as same sex couples, non-marital child birth, cohabitation, foster homes, and other non-traditional families to live under one roof.

Landlord Steve Myers owns a number of properties in Baton Rouge. He rents to young professionals and what he describes as "non traditional" families. Myers said the parish's definition of family is outdated.

"Our main point is that the government should not be passing laws to tell people who they can live with, whoever they are," he said.

Attorney Grant Guillot says non-traditional families no longer have to live in fear.

"It's also extremely beneficial to the property owner, who just wants the government to keep their head out of who he gets to rent to," he said.

City-parish officials had no comment on the ruling, but say it will be appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court.


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