Ministers Threatened By City With Arrest, Fines For Refusing To Perform Same-Sex Marriages

Tara West

Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel, the Hitching Post, were told they had to perform same-sex weddings or they could face jail time and up to $1,000 in daily fines, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court.

ABC News reports that the owners of the Hitching Post, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, said they are prepared to close their doors rather than conduct same-sex marriages.

"I think the Bible is pretty clear that homosexuality is not his way, and therefore I cannot unite people in a way that I believe would conflict with what the Bible teaches."
"For profit wedding chapels are in a position now where last week the ban would have prevented them from performing gay marriages, this week gay marriages are legal, pending an appeal to the 9th Circuit. I would think that the Hitching Post would probably be considered a place of public accommodation that would be subject to the ordinance."
"By declining to perform same-sex ceremonies and face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Worse, each day the Knapps decline to perform a requested same-sex wedding ceremony, they commit a separate and distinct misdemeanor, subject to the same penalties. Thus, if the Knapps decline a same-sex wedding ceremony for just one week, they risk going to jail for over 3 years and being fined $7,000. For the past several months, the City has privately and publicly threatened to apply Ordinance §9.56 to the Knapps if same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho and the Knapps declined to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony at The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel."
"The Idaho Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act (FERPA)provides that "[f]ree exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state, even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral."

What do you think? Should wedding chapels or ministers be required to perform same-sex marriages under anti-discrimination ordinances?