Hitching Post case erupted when owners ordered to perform ‘gay weddings’
A change is looming for a pastor-targeting ordinance adopted by the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, that imposes fines and jail time for refusing to perform same-sex “weddings,” according to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Hitching Post wedding chapel owners Donald and Evelyn Knapp in a federal lawsuit.
ADF told WND on Wednesday that the plaintiffs and defendants jointly asked for the case to be put on hold “so the parties can explore a good faith attempt to resolve the dispute by clarifying that the ordinance also exempts for-profit businesses that are operated according to the owner’s religious beliefs.”
“The city has stated multiple times – orally and in writing, publicly and privately – that for-profit businesses such as the Hitching Post are subject to the ordinance and would likely be prosecuted under it.”
ADF is requesting that the city “honor the Knapps’ fundamental freedoms and include a clear exemption covering for-profit businesses that are operated according to the owner’s religious beliefs.”
WND reported in October the city had tried several “litigation tactics” to get out of the case. At the time, the city was backing away from its threats of fines and jail for the two Christian ministers who refuse to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies at their commercial business, Hitching Post.
But ADF said that the core problem remained that the Knapps were subject to criminal fines and jail sentences if they failed to comply with the city’s social agenda.
In cases of a New Mexico photographer, a Colorado baker and several others, courts have ruled service providers can be required to violate their faith. Those cases, however, carried fines and other penalties, not possible jail time, as does the Coeur d’Alene case.
After issuing the threat, the city later reconsidered and said that all the couple needed to do to be exempt from the law was organize as a nonprofit instead of a commercial business. Then the city attorney later determined the move wouldn’t make any difference.
Written by BOB UNRUH
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