Same-sex marriages come to Idaho.
2014-NOV & 2015-MAR:
Part 6 of 6: Hitching Post Wedding Chapel:
The Chapel's and city's dispute is transferred
to federal court. Current status of the conflict.
The term "LGBT" is a widely used acronym for the Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual community.
2015-MAR: Negotiations between the Hitching Post and the city broke down (Continued):
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a legal defense group who is representing the owners of the Hitching Post has stated that city officials:
"... need to clarify who the law applies to and who it doesn’t. You’ve got a criminal law that allows for jail time and fines. It cannot be vague. People can’t be left guessing whether they will be subject to the ordinance."
This statement seems confusing because:
- The city's human rights ordinance clearly states that religious organizations are exempt from the ordinance and are free to discriminate in any way that they wish.
- The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel was registered as a religious organization before marriage equality came to Idaho in late 2014..
State Senator Steve Vick (R) commented:
"It’s very disappointing to me that they would require a Christian business owner to do something that violates their religious convictions, which I believe are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Most of the reaction that I incurred has been from disappointment to shock that [the city] would do that."
Fortunately, the city did not do that. It appears that:
- No same-sex couple has asked the Chapel to marry them.
- No complaint has been filed with the city by any same-sex couple who has been refused service by the Chapel.
- The city has not ordered the owners of the Chapel to marry same-sex couples.
- The Chapel is exempt from the human rights legislation.
But even if the Post is considered to be a for-profit public accommodation, as we stated previously in this section, the resolution to the conflict appears to be obvious. The Hitching Post could simply arrange in advance to have a member of the clergy -- or any other person licensed by the state to solemnize marriages -- on call to come to the Hitching Post and perform any marriage ceremonies that the owners don't want to do themselves. Co-owner Donald Knapp had earlier indicated that this compromise was acceptable to himself and his wife.
2015-JUL-01: Catholic World News comments on the lawsuit filed by the Hitching Post chapel:
This information service makes a number of points:
- The City Attorney told the Chapel owners that they could face prosecution if they refuse to marry same-sex couples.
- The "local non-discrimination ordinance" would require the owners of the Chapel "to provide equal service for homosexuals."
- If the city ordinance were enforced the chapel owners' religious freedom would be violated.
- City officials say that the Chapel is registered as a for-profit corporation.
- The city is treating the Chapel as a public accommodation.
That is a total of 5 points, none of which seem to correspond with reality.
2015-JUL-20: Hearing held in federal District Court:
A hearing was held by the U.S. District Court in Idaho involving the dispute between the Hitching Post Chapel and the City of Coeur d'Alene. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush presided.
- According to an article by KTVB-TV, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Sharp, who is acting for the the Chapel owners, claims that the city human rights ordinance requires the Chapel to perform gay marriages.
- According to Keith Erickson, spokesperson for the City, the lawsuit should be dismissed because the chapel is registered as a religious organization. This makes them immune to charges under the same ordinance.
The District Court is expected to issue its ruling during August.
2015-JUL-28: Current status of the Wedding Chapel dispute:
As far as we know as of the date of the most recent update to this essay:
- According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is registered as a religious organization and thus is free do discriminate against couples seeking to be married on any basis it wishes -- even on the basis of their eye color or hair style -- with impunity.
- Total number of complaints lodged by same-sex couples against the Chapel: zero
- Total fines paid by the Chapel owners to date: zero
- Total time spent in jail by the Chapel owners: zero days, zero hours.
- Effect that this publicity has had on the profit made by the Hitching Post: Unknown. However, some business owners across the U.S. who have refused to serve LGBT customers for religious reasons have experienced a rapid increase in sales afterwards from customers who oppose marriage equality.
- Amount of increased donations to the Alliance Defending Freedom from donors fearing that their faith group will be ordered to perform gay marriages in the near future, as a result of the imaginary conflict: Unknown.
- Total number of clergy in an American church, mosque, synagogue, etc. who have been charged during the past few centuries for refusing to marrying a couple because they were interracial, black, of the "wrong" religion, of the "right" religion but the "wrong" denomination, of the same sex, or too immature, etc.: zero.
Our predictions for the future:
- Future chances that a member of the clergy who works for a religious congregation being charged for refusing to marry a same-sex couple: zero.
- Probability that conservative religious media outlets will violate the 9th of the 10 Commandments in the future ("Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.") and claim that clergy are at risk for arrest or fine based on discrimination against the LGBT community: near 100%.
Further developments may or may not materialize.
In the meantime, same-sex couples continue to freely marry in Idaho,
the Hitching Post Chapel remains immune from prosecution by the city,
and most or all of the inaccuracies in reports on the Internet about the
Hitching Post Chapel remain uncorrected. People deserve better.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Bob Unruh, " 'Gay weddings' mandate gets new Judgment Day," WND Faith, 2015-MAR-08, at: http://www.wnd.com/
- "Idaho 'wedding chapel' files suit to block enforcement of ordinance requiring same-sex ceremonies," Catholic World News, 2015-JUL--01, at: https://www.catholicculture.org/
- "Court hears dismissal arguments in Idaho wedding chapel case," KTVB-TV, 2015-JUL-21, at: http://www.ktvb.com/
Copyright © 2014 & 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2015-JUL-28
Latest update: 2015-JUL-28
Author: B.A. Robinson