A minister has sued Cuyahoga County,
claiming its anti-discrimination policy forces her to promote
The Arizona-based Alliance Defending
Freedom (ADF) filed the suit on behalf of Kristi Stokes, an
evangelical Christian from Cleveland, Ohio, in U.S. District Court in
Cleveland last week.
ADF lawyers argue that the county's
policy, approved in 2018, forces her to perform and promote same-sex
weddings or face prosecution.
Stokes' business, Covenant Weddings,
which began operations in 2018, offers wedding services “that
celebrate marriage between one biological man and one biological
woman,” the filing states.
The lawsuit states that the law has
left Stokes “with an impossible choice: disobey the law, defy her
faith, desecrate her ministry or ditch her business. None of these
options are acceptable. To Kristi. To her faith. Or to the First
Mary Louise Madigan, a spokesperson for
the county, told Cleveland.com
that the county will “vigorously defend” its law.
“It's an important piece of
legislation written and passed to ensure equal access and opportunity
for all citizens of Cuyahoga County,” she said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
has labeled the ADF a “hate group” over its support for the
criminalization of consensual gay sex in the United States and
The lawsuit also states that Stokes
uses her social media accounts “to congratulate the couples she
works with and to promote and celebrate the beauty of marriage to her
clients, their friends and family, and to the general public.” This
statement could not be independently verified because the Facebook
accounts for Covenant Weddings did not appear to exist as of Sunday,