Venice, Florida -- On the surface it seems outright discriminatory: a condominium association says if a couple wants to buy in the complex, they must be husband and wife. Those couples "living in sin" can't make the purchase.
And the way Florida law is written, it's perfectly legal.
The new restrictions -- which just went into effect this summer --at the Casa Di Amici Condo basically means the 12 percent of the population that defines itself as being in a domestic partnership, whether it be gay and lesbian or heterosexual, cannot buy together in the upscale condominium complex.
Julia Nowak discovered the restriction after a document she received from her condo association.
"I could not believe what I was reading. It basically says you have to be either a single person or a husband and wife to purchase a unit here," Nowak says.
Nowak, a gay realtor who rents her condo to her parents, is outraged by the new restrictions, which she points out could also exclude "two elderly people who want to save on their social security, so they don't get married."
Attorney Mary Greenwood of the Brandon Law Center says, "To me, this is discriminatory."
But Greenwood also has to agree with the condo association attorney who maintains, "there's nothing illegal or contrary to federal, state or local ordinances."
Greenwood points out the restriction also hurts owners who are married "by limiting the pool of potential purchasers. When those owners are ready to sell, they're going to be limited who they can sell to."
In the meantime, the City of Venice has a domestic partnership ordinance that might have allowed Nowak to fight the new policy, but the condos with a Venice mailing address are actually in unincorporated Sarasota County, which doesn't have a human rights ordinance.
And that frustrates Nowak who says, "I hope there is public outrage [that] people will discriminate in this day and age."
While many people are upset about these restrictions, the truth is unless the state of Florida passes a human rights ordinance or domestic partners live in an area with that type of ordinance, what they call discrimination is perfectly legal.
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