City Threatens to Arrest Ministers Who Refuse to Perform Same-Sex Weddings
A couple, Donald & Lynn Knapp, who are ordained ministers in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, own a local business called “The Hitching Post.”
Not surprisingly, it’s a privately owned, for-profit wedding chapel that has been a fixture in the Northwest for 95 years.
It may not make 100 years thanks to Justice Anthony Kennedy and his fortune cookie interpretation of the Constitution. From Justice Scalia’s dissent in the recent decision on gay marriage:
The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.
Last year the gay mafia put The Hitching post in their crosshairs and went to the City attorney Coeur d’Alene. He moved to force the Knapps to perform marriages for homosexuals, they refused.
Fortunately for the Knapps the Alliance Defending Freedom got involved on their behalf. If you’re not familiar with the ADF, they’re a wonderful organization based in Scottsdale, AZ that defends religious liberties. They filed suit to stop the city from forcing the Knapps into the position where they would close their business. That was in October of last year.
In April of this year, the city backed down on their threats.
A lawsuit filed against the town by the ordained ministers to protect themselves from prosecution was based on “a misperception,” City Attorney Michael C. Gridley said, and he had no intentions of “threatening” and “imprisoning” them.
In a letter to the Knapps’ lawyer dated Oct. 23, Gridley sought to “clarify” the town’s earlier stand in response to the couple’s lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order. He wrote:
[I]t is my opinion and the city’s position that as currently represented, the conduct by Hitching Post Weddings LLC is exempt from the requirements of the ordinance and would not be subject to prosecution under the ordinance if a complaint was received by the city.
The ADF clarified their view of the City Attorney’s backpedaling.
As far as the “misperception” goes, an attorney for the city made it clear on at least three occasions that since The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is a for-profit business, they would be considered a public accommodation, and therefore subject to the nondiscrimination ordinance.
The city attorney said it on TV:
“For-profit wedding chapels in the city now are in a position where last week the ban would have prevented them from performing gay marriages, this week gay marriages are legal, pending an appeal to the 9th Circuit. If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services to them, that you would provide for anyone else, then in theory you violated our code and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation.”
And was quoted saying it in a newspaper:
“I would think that the Hitching Post would probably be considered a place of public accommodation that would be subject to the ordinance.”
After these reports came out, Don Knapp called the city attorney’s office, which twice confirmed that he and his wife would be in violation of the ordinance if they declined to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony at The Hitching Post.
In other words, he was weazling. But, he’s an attorney. [Insert lawyer joke here.]
That was April, this is June. And as noted above, Anthony Kennedy has ushered us into a brave new world.
The question now is simple. Will Coeur d’Alene pick up the baton and go after the Knapps once again? We’d bet our last dollar they will. And, it will likely be the end of The Hitching Post.