Baton Rouge's Family Definition Ruled Unconstitutional

Apr 25, 2013

Since 1954, the definition of family has prohibited more than two people not related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption from sharing a house in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The parish sued attorney and real estate broker Steve Myers for violating a zoning ordinance by renting a “single-family home” to unrelated tenants.

Appearing on The Jim Engster Show Thursday, Myers said the ordinance puts landlords at risk for discrimination claims.    

“Simply asking whether a prospective tenant has children would potentially put you in conflict with fair housing laws,” Myers said.

In her ruling, 19th District Court Judge Janice Clark found “no rational basis” for parish code treating cohabiting couples, same-sex relationships and others differently from traditional nuclear families.

The code has been used most often to target college students renting homes in certain neighborhoods.

The parish has not yet said whether it will appeal the ruling. Any appeal would go directly to state Supreme Court.