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

by William Teach | October 20, 2014 7:00 am

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

(Alliance Defending Freedom[1]) Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit[2] and a motion for a temporary restraining order[3] 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[4], 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[5]

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[6] 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 Pirate’s Cove[7]. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach[8].

  1. Alliance Defending Freedom:
  2. federal lawsuit:
  3. motion for a temporary restraining order:
  4. Religious Freedom Restoration Act:
  5. Idaho Constitution:
  6. Eugene Volokh:
  7. Pirate’s Cove:
  8. @WilliamTeach:

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