The Hitching Post, a Coeur d’Alene wedding chapel in Idaho, has been the center of a fake controversy this week seeming to pit LGBT non-discrimination ordinances versus anti-gay religious beliefs.
The city of Coeur d’Alene and the Idaho ACLU have issued statements saying the venue would not be violating the city’s nondiscrimination laws should they decline to officiate a same-sex marriage, but the anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom is killing itself to keep the story alive.
From Boise State Public Radio:
Initially, the city said its anti-discrimination law did apply to the Hitching Post, since it is a commercial business. Earlier this week, Coeur d’Alene city attorney Mike Gridley sent a letter to the Knapps’ attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom saying the Hitching Post would have to become a not-for-profit to be exempt.
But Gridley said after further review, he determined the ordinance doesn’t specify non-profit or for-profit.
“After we’ve looked at this some more, we have come to the conclusion they would be exempt from our ordinance because they are a religious corporation,” Gridley explained.
Court filings show the Hitching Post reorganized earlier this month as a “religious corporation.” In the paperwork, the owners describe their deeply held beliefs that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
Leo Morales of the ACLU of Idaho said the exemption makes sense as long as the Hitching Post primarily performs religious ceremonies.
“However, if they do non-religious ceremonies as well, they would be violating the anti-discrimination ordinance,” Morales said. “It’s the religious activity that’s being protected.”
See, what happened was, quietly on October 6th, the owners of the venue changed the wording of the “purpose” of their LLC in preparation of all these shenanigans. Prior to a few weeks ago, the Hitching Post performed non-religious marriage ceremonies. BUT, that wouldn’t make for as good a story as a “religious corporation” would. Check the new language on the company’s business operating agreement:
“The Hitching Post is a religious corporation owned solely by ordained ministers of the Christian religion who operate this entity as an extension of their sincerely held religious beliefs and in accordance with their vows taken as Christian ministers.”
So, the point is – civil weddings are fine with the Knapps. Other religions ceremonies are fine with the Knapps. It’s the gays they have a problem with.
Even the group that helped draft the non-discrimination ordinance language – the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations – has issued a statement to the mayor and city council that the Knapps fall under the religious exemption in the law.
But the thing is, the anti-gay groups WANT there to be a controversy so they can point their fingers and say “See? We told you religious folks would be persecuted!” The Alliance Defending Freedom keeps perpetrating the idea that at least one same-sex couple has tried to get the owners of The Hitching Post to marry them. Except, that hasn’t happened.
So, no one is being persecuted.
Fake story. Fake controversy.