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Idaho Town Bridling in their Religious Discrimination?

By Tony Perkins

Coeur d’Alene, a small town in northern Idaho appears to be trying to rein in their earlier threat to put two ministers in jail for refusing to conduct same-sex weddings. As I outlined last week, Don and Lynn Knapps, two Evangelical ministers, own The Hitching Post, a wedding chapel in Coeur d’ Alene. The Knapps, who have been operating The Hitching Post for over a quarter of a century, are ministers in the Foursquare denomination that holds to the biblical and historical definition of marriage.

FRC’s allies at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) quickly came to the Knapps’ defense. Originally Coeur d’Alene city attorney Mike Gridley told ADF attorneys that the Hitching Post would have to become a not-for-profit to be “exempt” from the city’s ordinance requiring compliance with its “anti-discrimination” law.

The city has changed its tune just a bit after the public outcry against this clear violation of the couple’s First Amendment rights grew to a crescendo across the nation. Now Gridley says, “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.”

Not so fast, says ADF. What’s the basis for the new interpretation? What’s to say city officials won’t rethink the statute after the public outcry has died down? While ADF sees this as a move in the right direction, “to fix the ordinance, the city needs to adopt new language that will make clear who is subject to it. It is a fundamental violation of due process to pass a criminal law that does not clearly specify to whom it applies.”

There is a reason the Left wants this to go away and will say what they need to in order to shift the public’s focus from it. This is the just one consequence of the redefinition of marriage – the loss of religious freedom.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)


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