Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, city officials have laid down the law to Christian pastors within their community, telling them bluntly via an ordinance that if they refuse to marry homosexuals, they will face jail time and fines.
The dictate comes on the heels of a legal battle with Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post wedding chapel in the city, but who oppose gay marriage, The Daily Caller reported.
A federal judge recently ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, while the city of Coeur d’Alene has an ordinance that prevents discrimination based on sexual preference.
The Supreme Court’s recent refusal to take on gay rights’ appeals from five states has opened the doors for same-sex marriages to go forth.
The Knapps were just asked by a gay couple to perform their wedding ceremony, The Daily Caller reported.
“On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined,” The Daily Signal reported. “The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and a $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a suit in federal court to stop the city from enforcing the fine and jail sentence, saying in a statement from senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco that the government has overstepped its bounds, The Daily Caller reported.
“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,” Mr. Tedersco said, The Daily Caller reported.
But the city sees it differently. As far back as May, city officials were insisting that their ordinance is indeed in line with law.
“If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services for them, then in theory you violated our code, and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation,” said Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Warren Wilson, to KXLY months ago.
• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at email@example.com.
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