It is currently illegal for a gay couple to have two or more foster children living with them in Oakland Park, Florida – a small city just west of Fort Lauderdale. Current city laws forbid more than three people – not related by blood, marriage or adoption – to live as a family. But that’s about to change.
At a recent meeting, Commissioner Suzanne Boisvenue instructed city staffers to change the legal definition of family in the zoning law. She said she wants the three-person restriction removed, and language added to ensure that “family” includes domestic partners, regardless of gender, as well as foster children and all legal guardians.
Outgoing Oakland Park Vice Mayor Anthony Niedwiecki said the law hits close to home for him and his partner, Waymon Hudson. They were foster parents to a teenage boy for two years. Before he took office, Niedwiecki did some research and realized, “Wow, if we took in two foster kids, we would be violating the zoning laws.”
The current law already allows for an infinite number of people to live together — as long as they are related, he argues. “So you are just discriminating against a group of people,” he said. Niedwiecki suggests instead a limit on the number of people who may live in one house based on the square footage of the home, though he does not have a number in mind.