The city of Coeur d’Alene in Idaho is now saying that a wedding chapel operated by Christian ministers Donald and Evelyn Knapp can refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
Earlier, the city had said that the for-profit wedding chapel, Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, was violating non-discrimination laws by refusing to perform same-sex marriages. The Knapps faced high fines and possible jail time for violating the laws.
Under an initial understanding of the city ordinance, the chapel needed to be a not-for-profit to be exempt from the non-discrimination laws.
However, Coeur d’Alene city attorney Mike Gridley now says the ordinance does not specify non-profit or for-profit, according to Boise State Public Radio.
“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 said.
Earlier this month, the Hitching Post reclassified as a “religious corporation.”
ADF attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit and a motion to temporarily keep Coeur d’Alene city officials from forcing the chapel to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.
The city is “unconstitutionally coercing” the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies “in violation of their religious beliefs, their ordination vows, and their consciences,” the lawsuit says.
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