News (USA)

Wedding chapel files lawsuit claiming non-discrimination ordinance is unconstitutional

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — An Idaho wedding chapel has filed a lawsuit against the City of Coeur d’Alene, claiming the city’s LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance is forcing them to violate their religious beliefs by performing same-sex marriages.

Hitching Post wedding chapel, Coeur D Alene, ID
Hitching Post wedding chapel, Coeur D Alene, ID

Donald and Evelyn Knapp, owners of the Hitching Post wedding chapel, filed the lawsuit in federal court on Friday, claiming the ordinance violates their constitutional rights, reports The Spokesman-Review.

“Performing same-sex wedding ceremonies would thus force the Knapps to condone, promote and even consecrate something forbidden by their religious beliefs and ordination vows,” the suit reads.

Coeur d’Alene is one of at least seven Idaho cities that have adopted local ordinances barring employers, landlords and most businesses from discriminating on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Coeur d’Alene ordinance, passed in 2013, applies to housing, employment and “public accommodation.” Religious entities are exempt from the ordinance. But in May, city attorney Warren Wilson told The Spokesman-Review that The Hitching Post, which is a for-profit business, likely would be required to follow the ordinance.

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Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Idaho, the Knapps are asking for a temporary restraining order against the city to stop it from enforcing the ordinance.

They say they have already been contacted by at least one same-sex couple inquiring about their services, and that they have turned that couple away.

Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time.

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