[Ed. – It’s only a matter of time before any minister who performs a wedding for someone who hasn’t been a long-time member of his church will be considered a proprietor who operates a place of “public accommodation.” If the minister accepts the typical gratuity for his services, he’s toast.]
Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to $1,000 in daily fines, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, two ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene. …
The wedding chapel is registered as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.”
However, the chapel is also a for-profit business and city officials said that means the owners must comply with the local nondiscrimination ordinance.
City Attorney Warren Wilson told The Spokesman-Review in May that the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel likely would be required to follow the ordinance.
“I would think that the Hitching Post would probably be considered a place of public accommodation that would be subject to the ordinance,” he said.
He also told television station KXLY that any wedding chapel that turns away a gay couple would in theory be a violation of the law “and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation.” …
City officials did not respond to my requests for an interview nor did they respond to requests from local news outlets.
“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jeremy Tedesco said. “The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”
Alliance Defending Freedom also filed a temporary restraining order to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance.