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Condo community draws protestors over unmarried couple ban

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013 5:36 pm

VENICE, Fla. - Some controversial restrictions by a Venice condo association has equal rights advocates crying foul. The Casa Di Amici condos in South Venice are restricting who can purchase or rent – and that includes no legally unmarried couples.

In Florida that includes those with domestic partnerships, heterosexual, or gay couples. And while some are claiming the policy is discriminatory, it turns out it's legal.

About 12% of the U.S. population lives in what's called a domestic partnership. As of July, none of those people would be allowed to buy at the Casa Di Amici.

That's not sitting well with equal rights groups outside the walls and many of the people who already live inside.

A few protestors gathered outside the community Thursday.

"It's just outright discrimination." Former Sarasota County Commission candidate Jennifer Cohen is one of those upset. At issue are new restrictions at the Casa Di Amici condos inside the Venetia mixed use development along Woodmere Park Boulevard in Venice. "They decided in their homeowners association that they would not permit unmarried couples, which could be gay, lesbian, or straight."

Local realtor Julia Nowak owns one unit in the community. She also says she's a lesbian. "I could not believe what I was reading here."

New rules passed by the condo association in July do not say outright that gays and lesbians can't live there, but does narrowly define who can. "It's basically stating in here that you have to be a single person or a married husband and wife to purchase in here."

ABC 7’s call to the president of the board has gone unanswered.

"I had no idea. I had no idea this was happening." Marilynn Rosenberg also lives there. She says most had no idea what their board was up to or why. "If one of those persons came up with this crazy idea how the other board members went along with it. It is just shocking to me."

We contacted Sarasota attorney Roy E. Dean, who wrote up the covenant. Over the phone he told us "he was not at liberty to discuss the issue."

ABC 7 asked our Facebook friends what they thought about it. While the vast majority were opposed to it, a few commentators had other opinions. Clark Dell wrote: "The rights of gays is not guaranteed anywhere in the Constitution. Progressives have no right to force a lifestyle on people who find it morally wrong. Besides, why would one want to live where they aren't wanted?"

Jim McKinley wrote in part: "I think it's fine. If it's legal they have the right to do what they want with their property."

Turns out it is legal.

"It is legal, but I think they got away with this because they are in the county. The city now has an ordinance for domestic registry," says Cohen.

Sarasota County does not have a domestic partnership ordinance. The Federal Fair Housing Act does not include marital status or sexual orientation.

Those upset are hoping the outcry brings change. "I hope they get more protestors. I hope they get protestors at this gate and the other one so that the people in our community will realize what is happening. I think there are a lot of people here who don't even know this is going on," says Rosenberg.

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5 comments:

  • flkayce posted at 4:24 pm on Sat, Aug 17, 2013.

    flkayce Posts: 3

    No, I didn't miss the point of this..............I addressed it as a 65 year old, licensed CAM manager...............

    I am well aware of room-mates..............folks would be a whole lot better if they would roommate ..............

    I still ask the same questions....................was this done in the Sunshine (Sunshine Law); also, if this is a 55+ community and registered with HUD (as all 55+ communities have to be to have the designation) what are HUD regulations regarding this rule or convenent???

    This move sound like what has been going on in this country and the rule was probably made up by old white republican men...........checking the sunbiz.com registration of the association they are, at least old white men

     
  • ruscat posted at 6:33 pm on Fri, Aug 16, 2013.

    ruscat Posts: 1

    1 - do the documents allow the Board to make this policy?
    2 - if so, in #1, did the Board formally approve this policy?
    3 - was the approval during a properly posted and formally convened Board meeting?
    If all of the above are true, the Association acted within their proper powers.

     
  • eye open homeowner posted at 4:17 pm on Fri, Aug 16, 2013.

    eye open homeowner Posts: 1

    I think you missed the important point of this decision. Did you ever see the sitcom "Golden Girls"? There are many more seniors that live together for economic reasons that this concerns than gay couples. A whole lot of widows live together because that is the only way to have good housing. They also team up for health and other benefits they would lose if they were married. It is easy to find some people that want to get their agenda in the news but you need to find the people that would really have a hardship if this requirement swept through the Bradenton/Sarasota area. [sad]

     
  • flkayce posted at 8:12 pm on Thu, Aug 15, 2013.

    flkayce Posts: 3

    I wrote one post, but it as yet not posted and there isn't any discussion....however, was the membershp properly noticed that there were meetings on changing the rules and regulations, covenants, etc........was there proper notice before this change takes effect.

    I sincerely hope the licensed CAM manager and Lighthouse Management did notice and was out in the Sunshine with any discussions, votes, etc.........were are the minutes?

    You can't drop a bombshell like this without some questions and answers............

     
  • flkayce posted at 7:16 pm on Thu, Aug 15, 2013.

    flkayce Posts: 3

    this association should be ashamed of themselves........but as all associations and their boards think they are above all...........check sunbiz.com and 411.com for public information: Bill Cummings, President, 941-492-5541 and Jim Bateman, Registered Agent, 941-244-0995......of course Lighthouse Mangement and the Manager should be contacted also.......

    they really dug deep to do this covenant and for it to be legal..............I didn't check but is this an over 55+ community...........