The Forest Lake Estates Civic Association has filed suit against Steven and Corinna Gourlay based on the fact that they have foster children. The neighborhood association and Walter Lucas, the association’s president, should be ashamed of themselves. This lawsuit should be thrown out, and the residents of Forest Lakes should be ordered to pay the Gourlays damages.
Two weeks ago, Lucas filed suit in district court on behalf of his neighborhood association charging the Gourlays with violation of deed restrictions and a contract they signed upon moving into Forest Lakes Estates. Lucas has played a major role in riling up the neighborhood against the Gourlays. He accused Corinna Gourlay of running a day care out of her home, which was completely false, then tried to convince the rest of the neighborhood that foster children are not included in the definition of a single family.
Foster children are the legal wards of their temporary parents. Foster parents have legal guardianship and responsibility for the welfare, safety and comfort of their foster children. Those are the same responsibilities of biological parents. Therefore, under the law, those children should be considered part of a single family, not as a separate entity. Hence, there is no violation of contract on the part of the Gourlays.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Gourlays have filed a counter-suit stating that the neighborhood group has violated their rights under the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin and familial status, even more reason for the associations’ suit to be dismissed.
The Gourlays’ request for monetary damages is completely justified, and the neighborhood should be glad they aren’t pressing criminal charges. Terrorizing a family because they don’t represent a picture-perfect ideal is unscrupulous, and the Forest Lakes residents deserve to have to pay the highest amount of punitive damages possible.