The owners of a wedding chapel in Coeur
d'Alene, Idaho have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the city is
forcing them to violate their religious beliefs by performing
weddings for gay and lesbian couples.
City leaders last year approved a
gay-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance which applies to the
areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.
While religious entities are exempt,
The Hitching Post is a for-profit business run by Donald and Evelyn
City attorney Warren Wilson in May told
The Spokesman-Review that the chapel would have to comply with
the law if marriage equality became legal in the state, which
happened last week.
Violators face a misdemeanor charge
punishable by fines and jail time.
The Knapps, who are being represented
by the Christian conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom
(ADF), are ordained ministers with the International Church of the
Foursquare Gospel, a Protestant evangelical Pentecostal Christian
denomination founded in 1932. They began operating The Hitching Post
“On October 17, 2014, the Knapps
invoked their religious beliefs and ordination vows and declined to
perform a same-sex wedding ceremony,” the
lawsuit states. “Because of the immediate and irreparable harm
the Knapps are suffering to their constitutionally protected rights,
they urgently need this Court to issue a temporary restraining order
enjoining [the ordinance] as applied to them.”
Coeur d'Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer told
Spokeman-Review that he was unaware of the lawsuit.