Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Gov’t Tells Ministers To Perform Gay Marriage Or Face Jail

Remember when we were told that things like this wouldn’t happen?

(Alliance Defending Freedom) Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly. 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.”

Forcing a religious leader to perform a marriage against his/her religious beliefs violates law, inlcuding Idaho’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the 1st Amendment of the US Bill of Rights. Oh, and just to be truly clear, here’s Section I, Article 4 of the Idaho Constitution

Guaranty of religious liberty. The exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship shall forever be guaranteed; and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege, or capacity on account of his religious opinions; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be construed to dispense with oaths or affirmations, or excuse acts of licentiousness or justify polygamous or other pernicious practices, inconsistent with morality or the peace or safety of the state; nor to permit any person, organization, or association to directly or indirectly aid or abet, counsel or advise any person to commit the crime of bigamy or polygamy, or any other crime. No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship, religious sect or denomination, or pay tithes against his consent; nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship. Bigamy and polygamy are forever prohibited in the state, and the legislature shall provide by law for the punishment of such crimes.

Hey, wait, why are bigamy and polygamy specifically banned? Shouldn’t people who love each other be allowed to marry? If you support gay marriage and say “no” to that question, why? Kinda makes you intolerant, eh?

Coeur d’Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city’s public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel. On Friday, the Knapps respectfully declined such a ceremony and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.

180 days? That’s more jail time than some liberal judges give child molesters.

Eugene Volokh makes an interesting point

I was very pleased to have the officiants I had for my wedding. But if I had instead asked a rabbi, and he told me that he didn’t want to preside over a wedding between my wife (who isn’t ethnically Jewish) and me, I can’t see how that sort of ethnic discrimination would create a harm that justifies trumping the rabbi’s religious freedom rights and free speech rights. Perhaps some might feel offended by such a statement of religious rejection, but I don’t think there can be a compelling government interest in shielding people from such rejections when it comes to the performance of ceremonies.

Would anyone expect an Imam to marry two Christians in a Christian ceremony? Or a pastor to marry two Muslims in a Muslim ceremony?

And when will they allow bigamists and polygamists to marry? Hey, come on, otherwise, it’s discrimination! You liberals can’t have it both ways.

Crossed at Right Wing News.

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19 Responses to “Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Gov’t Tells Ministers To Perform Gay Marriage Or Face Jail”

  1. Jeffery says:

    I agreed with Teach until I read the article.

    The “ministers” run their business, The Hitching Post, as a “ministry” subsidized by the government. Take a look at the picture of their “church”.

    The question is similar to the Hobby Lobby case. Can a business owner running a very public business discriminate against a class of people by claiming “religious freedom”? Can a Muslim hotelier exclude non-Muslim customers?

    Here’s the crux: “Coeur d’Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city’s public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel.”

    It’s unlikely that this policy would apply to an actual church.

  2. How, exactly, are they subsidized by the government?

    And, even if so, does that mean they lose their Rights?

  3. John says:

    Teach fundamentalists who are conservatives already are polygamists
    I mean shouldn’t there be religious exceptions for religious beliefs? Didn’t The Hobby Lobby case that you crowed about say religious reliefs trump secular laws? Many religions have accepted plural marriage even Jesus approved

  4. Jeffery says:

    Churches pay no taxes. That’s a subsidy. Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps the Hitching Post does pay taxes. But it was described as a ministry. So I assume it’s similar to Jimmy Swaggart, Creflo Dollar and Joyce Meyer Ministries, who transfer millions from working class families into their own pockets tax free.

    The Hitching Post, (and that’s a peculiar name for a church, but whatever), is a great scam, don’t get me wrong.

    A business open to the public cannot discriminate. It’s a pretty simple principle. The question is whether The Hitching Post is a business or a church.

  5. That’s a pretty damned loose interpretation of “subsidy”. One which is way off base.

    BTW, do you think Idaho should repeal the ban on polygamy and bigamy? If not, why? Isn’t there love good enough?

  6. gitarcarver says:

    That’s a subsidy.

    Churches don’t pay payroll taxes? That is news to a bunch of churches that I know.

    But the real point is that you believe that the monies in the pockets of people or organizations belong to the government.

    But it was described as a ministry.

    Nothing like someone who has no clue trying to sound like an expert. For your information Jeffery, a ministry does not have to be a church or a non-profit. In fact, if you had bothered to read the court documents, you’d find that the Hitching Post is a for profit business that pays taxes.

    A business open to the public cannot discriminate. It’s a pretty simple principle.

    And the government cannot compel a person to act against their religious beliefs. It’s a pretty simple principle that is guaranteed by the Constitution.

  7. Jeffery says:

    I had already conceded I could be wrong about their business being a “church”. I’ll take your word for it they are not a church but just a small business discriminating against customers based on their religion.

    So then the question is can a business dealing exclusively in public accommodations discriminate on the basis of religion?

    I say no. You say yes. This is why we have courts. Most of these rulings have been going against the public accommodation businesses. You’re arguing that Catholic hoteliers can refuse to rent a room to a gay couple. Or that a Muslim restaurateur could refuse service to someone wearing a cross necklace. Or that a Jewish deli operator can refuse a pastrami on rye to a Muslim.

    Bigots will have to learn to live in this increasingly complex world. You’ve had to learn to live with women, Blacks, Muslims and Mexicans… now gays. Everything will be OK. Like I would tell a Muslim, if your religion hinges on hating and discriminating against others, maybe it’s time to re-examine your beliefs.

    My religion considers far-right conservatives to be subhuman primates, descended from the Neanderthal, with an underdeveloped epigenetic regulatory system that enables the inheritance of bizarre notions. I’m trying to find a way to keep the drugs we’re developing from being sold to far-right conservatives, ’cause, you know, my religious beliefs come first.

  8. Except, it is a church, Jeff, and these ministers are being told under threat of jail that they must perform a ceremony which they find holy under God.

    Is it discrimination if a rabbi refuses to perform a Catholic ceremony if asked? Or an Imam refuses to perform a Buddhist ceremony?

    And you’ve ducked the question on polygamy and bigamy multiple times now. I’m not surprised, because most gay marriage supporters I’ve directly asked have ducked it.

  9. Jeffery says:

    Teach,

    It’s a stretch to call The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel a church. The proprietors, the Knapps, ARE ordained ministers of the International Church of the FourSquare Gospel, but their “church” marries people for profit. There is nothing wrong with that at all, but that’s a public business.

    The Knapps were not forced to marry people for money and were not forced to open a for-profit business. They chose to do that. In America we can start a business but we have to abide by the law. If you decide and choose to make money from the public, you can’t pick and choose your customers based on your personal bigotry.

    We DO make special accommodations for churches, so religious people have special, extra rights. The Knapps want to take advantage of that to enable their discrimination against those whose religion they don’t approve.

    http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/10/20/3581733/idaho-marriage-chapel-adf/

    “At the time, Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Warren Wilson explained, “If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services for them, then in theory you violated our code and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation.” Wilson clarified that religious entities are exempt under the city ordinance, but apparently told Mr. Knapp at the time that the Hitching Post was not exempt because it is a business, not a religious corporation like a church.”

    “Indeed, the Hitching Post is a for-profit business, but with help from ADF, the Knapps have been gearing up for this challenge for some time by redefining their business in more religious terms. In fact, Hitching Post completely reincorporated with an entirely new business certificate just last month, which was authorized by Michael S. Oswald, an ADF attorney. Along with the new business was a new Operating Agreement, dated October 6, 2014, which enshrines all of the religious values offered in the complaint as part of the business.”

    “… back in May when it was first in the news, the Hitching Post Chapel’s website said that the Knapps offered a “traditional or civil ceremony” for weddings and that they also would “perform wedding ceremonies of other faiths.” Though the website still said as much as recently as October 9, 2014, the old language has been scrubbed and the Hitching Post now only offers “a traditional Christian wedding ceremony.”

    So they have offered traditional Christian weddings for less than 2 weeks!

    Real churches have nothing to worry about. I would be on your side if a government body insisted that real churches had to violate their beliefs (regardless of how ridiculous those beliefs are).

    There is always a conflict when a religious group tries to impose its beliefs on the broader citizenry. And there is always a balance between the right of religious expression and the impact on society.

    Brigham Young, the successor of Joseph Smith, stated: “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so”. Should conservative Mormons be able to ban Blacks from a Mormon-owned restaurant? Of course not. Does a Mormon temple have to marry Blacks? Of course not.

    Mark 16:18 New International Version

    “… they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Do the laws in Appalachian states forbidding snake handing (and preventing many deaths) violate the religious rights of serpent handling conservative Christians? Do the laws serve a greater purpose (keeping children from being bitten by their crazy dad’s rattlesnakes)?

    Teach,

    You seem hung up on polygamy. I have no problems with people marrying whichever humans they wish, as long as they comport with age of consent laws. Why do you think states oppose polygamy? Partly for religious reasons, for sure. Another reason is the complexity of the legal issues. That would seem to be a mess with multiple wives or husbands.

    Here’s a partial list of the legal rights of marriage:

    Larger benefits under some programs if married, including:
    Veteran’s disability
    Supplemental Security Income
    Disability payments for federal employees
    Medicaid
    Property tax exemption for homes of totally disabled veterans
    Income tax deductions, credits, rates exemption, and estimates
    Wages of an employee working for one’s spouse are exempt from federal unemployment tax[3]

    Joint and family-related rights:
    Joint filing of bankruptcy permitted
    Joint parenting rights, such as access to children’s school records
    Family visitation rights for the spouse and non-biological children, such as to visit a spouse in a hospital or prison
    Next-of-kin status for emergency medical decisions or filing wrongful death claims
    Custodial rights to children, shared property, child support, and alimony after divorce
    Domestic violence intervention

    Tax-free transfer of property between spouses (including on death) and exemption from “due-on-sale” clauses.
    Special consideration to spouses of citizens and resident aliens
    Threats against spouses of various federal employees is a federal crime
    Right to continue living on land purchased from spouse by National Park Service when easement granted to spouse
    Court notice of probate proceedings
    Domestic violence protection orders
    Existing homestead lease continuation of rights
    Regulation of condominium sales to owner-occupants exemption
    Funeral and bereavement leave
    Joint adoption and foster care
    Joint tax filing
    Insurance licenses, coverage, eligibility, and benefits organization of mutual benefits society
    Legal status with stepchildren
    Making spousal medical decisions
    Spousal non-resident tuition deferential waiver
    Permission to make funeral arrangements for a deceased spouse, including burial or cremation
    Right of survivorship of custodial trust
    Right to change surname upon marriage
    Right to enter into prenuptial agreement
    Right to inheritance of property
    Spousal privilege in court cases (the marital confidences privilege and the spousal testimonial privilege)

    For those divorced or widowed, the right to many of ex- or late spouse’s benefits, including:
    Social Security pension
    Veteran’s pensions, indemnity compensation for service-connected deaths, medical care, and nursing home care, right to burial in veterans’ cemeteries, educational assistance, and housing
    survivor benefits for federal employees
    Survivor benefits for spouses of longshoremen, harbor workers, railroad workers
    Additional benefits to spouses of coal miners who die of black lung disease
    $100,000 to spouse of any public safety officer killed in the line of duty
    Continuation of employer-sponsored health benefits
    Renewal and termination rights to spouse’s copyrights on death of spouse
    Continued water rights of spouse in some circumstances
    Payment of wages and workers compensation benefits after worker death
    Making, revoking, and objecting to post-mortem anatomical gifts

  10. Jeffery says:

    Teach asks:

    “Is it discrimination if a rabbi refuses to perform a Catholic ceremony if asked?” Yes, it is discrimination but it is not unlawful. Nor should it be, unless the Rabbi is running a for-profit marriage business open to the public.

    “Or an Imam refuses to perform a Buddhist ceremony?” Yes, it is discrimination but it is not unlawful. Nor should it be, unless the Imam is running a for-profit marriage business open to the public.

    Discrimination is not a bad thing. I discriminate by not associating any more than absolutely necessary with preachy conservatives.

    “And you’ve ducked the question on polygamy and bigamy multiple times now. I’m not surprised, because most gay marriage supporters I’ve directly asked have ducked it.”

    By all means, let them marry as many people as they wish. The Bible is against it, though.

  11. gitarcarver says:

    Not surprisingly, Jeffery gets this one wrong.

    Jeffery argues that the government can force people to act against their deeply held religious beliefs.

    If that were the case, school prayer would still be allowed. Furthermore, students could be compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance but they are not required to do so. (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette)

    Courts have held there are exceptions to “public accommodation” laws such as when those laws broach other rights such as the First Amendment.

    Furthermore, Idaho has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act which prohibits the government from restricting the exercise of religion unless the government can show a compelling reason to do so. Coeur d’Alene has other ministers who have said they will perform same sex marriages so there is no burden on couples in the city for the government to force the Knapps to perform the ceremony.

    Even if the government could force the Knapps to perform the ceremony, the compulsion would be that the Knapps perform a religious ceremony, a violation of the establishment clause.

    It could be argued that the Knapps have to make the Hitchin’ Post property available for same sex weddings, (and that is doubtful) but there is no reason to believe the government can force a person to act against their religious beliefs and force a person to perform a religious ceremony.

  12. Jeffery says:

    As I said, no one forced the Knapps to open a business or perform marriage ceremonies for money. They chose to do that. Since they chose to do that, they will need to obey the laws. If they refuse to obey the law, they will have to pay the consequences for their lawbreaking.

    They are trying to get around the law by changing the nature of their business. And they may be able to pull it off, since we Americans are forgiving and give religions a wide berth.

  13. So, let me get this straight, Jeff: if you have a for profit business, you have to give up your constitutional rights?

  14. gitarcarer says:

    As I said, no one forced the Knapps to open a business or perform marriage ceremonies for money.

    Which is totally irrelevant.

    Since they chose to do that, they will need to obey the laws.

    As does the city.

    That is what you are missing. The city cannot go against the RFRA, The city cannot go against the First Amendment. The city cannot go against the Establishment Clause. The city cannot compel speech. The city cannot compel religious speech.

    They are trying to get around the law by changing the nature of their business.

    The have changed the nature” of their business to be more in-line with their religious beliefs, but that too is not relevant to your argument that the government can trample on the rights and freedoms of people without a compelling reason and in this case, there is no compelling reason.

    And they may be able to pull it off, since we Americans are forgiving and give religions a wide berth.

    Or, Americans, unlike you, may value freedoms and rights.

    No matter what, you are wrong on this issue.

  15. Jeffery says:

    teach and gc,

    There is no Constitutional right to discriminate in public accommodations.

    Please answer: Does a devout Muslim who owns a Holiday Inn have the Constitutional right to not rent a room to a Christian?

  16. gitarcarver says:

    There is no Constitutional right to discriminate in public accommodations.

    There is no Constitutional provision that allows the government to force anyone to act against their religious beliefs. The government cannot compel a religious activity. Why that escapes you is beyond me.

    Please answer: Does a devout Muslim who owns a Holiday Inn have the Constitutional right to not rent a room to a Christian?

    No, but that is not the issue here and you know it as there is no compulsion by the government for the Muslim to act against his faith or to be forced to do a religious service.

    What part of the First Amendment do you not understand?

    Please answer: Does an Muslim have the right to demand that Wrigley Field not serve hot dogs? Does a black copy writer / media relations firm have to write a press release for the KKK? Does a Jewish artist have to design a poster for neo-Nazis? Should a local government require an atheist to answer the phone around December with “Merry Christmas?” And then end the phone call with “God bless you!”?

  17. Jeffery says:

    So you would, by government fiat, force a Muslim to violate his religion and provide service to a Christian?

    Does a Muslim have the right to demand that Wrigley Field not serve hot dogs? — Yes, they have the right to demand that, but Wrigley Field would not be obligated to comply. On the other hand, Wrigley cannot legally refuse to sell a hotdog based on the customers religion, race etc.

    Does a black copy writer / media relations firm have to write a press release for the KKK? — No, being a member of the KKK is unlikely to be a protected group. I guess you could try to make the argument that the KKK is a conservative Christian sect. Is that what you’re saying? And it’s not clear that a media relations firm qualifies as a “public accommodation”.

    Does a Jewish artist have to design a poster for neo-Nazis? — No, being a neo-Nazi is unlikely to be a protected group. Unclear if an artist qualifies as a “public accommodation.”

    Should a local government require an atheist to answer the phone around December with “Merry Christmas?” And then end the phone call with “God bless you!”? — No, that would be construed as government support of religion.

    The Knapps do not have to accept all customers at their business. They can refuse for many reasons, e.g., capacity, safety, smell, for any number of reasons, too busy etc. Just not for bigotry based on race, sexual orientation, religion, country of origin, disabilities etc. These categories vary based on local laws. The key will be whether their business is covered by local “public accommodations” laws.

  18. So you would, by government fiat, force a Muslim to violate his religion and provide service to a Christian?

    Jeff, it’s really cute how you play this game, but even you must understand that there is a big difference between a Muslim running a Holiday Inn, a business that is not a religious one, versus a minister running a church, even one that is for profit. If, say, Chick Fil A decided that they would not hire Muslims because they’re Muslim, yes, that would be a problem.

    We still have religious rights here in America. By Law and Constitution.

  19. gitarcarver says:

    So you would, by government fiat, force a Muslim to violate his religion and provide service to a Christian?

    Except there is no violation of religion. Thanks for making my point that forcing someone to violate someone’s religion is against the Constitution.

    Does a Muslim have the right to demand that Wrigley Field not serve hot dogs? — Yes, they have the right to demand that, but Wrigley Field would not be obligated to comply.

    So Wrigley can violate the rights of a Muslim and you approve. Got it.

    Does a Jewish artist have to design a poster for neo-Nazis? — No, being a neo-Nazi is unlikely to be a protected group. Unclear if an artist qualifies as a “public accommodation.”

    So now we move away from a company being required to serve all once they enter the public sector to “protected classes.”

    In order to prevent so called discrimination, you believe and advocate discrimination and think it is fine in the public sector.

    It is also unclear whether a religious ceremony is a “public accommodation,” but you have no issue saying the Knapps are discrimination and must violate their religious beliefs.

    At least you continue to show that you are intellectually dishonest, hypocritical, and against freedoms and rights of people.

    In short, you’re a typical liberal.

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