Monday, April 6, 2015

Video: Northern Idaho Wedding Chapel Moves Forward With Federal Lawsuit

Posted By on Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 9:25 AM

A northern Idaho wedding chapel, which became the centerpiece of a debate over whether a business can claim religious exemption, now wants the City of Coeur d'Alene to pay for the days that the chapel closed down in 2014, even though Hitching Post owners shut the chapel down by choice. Additionally, the chapel is moving forward with a lawsuit against the Idaho panhandle city in spite of the fact that they've been told they don't have to perform same-sex weddings.

In 2014, Hitching Post owners Don and Evelyn Knapp said their business was not bound by Coeur d'Alene's nondiscrimination ordinance, which makes it illegal to deny services based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Shortly after a federal court struck down Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage, the Knapps sued Coeur d'Alene, but city officials said they had no desire to prosecute the Hitching Post for violating the ordinance. The debate came on the heels of some controversial proposed "religious freedom" legislation introduced in the 2014 session of the Idaho Legislature.

And now, almost a full  year after the Hitching Post said it would close its doors if it was forced to perform same-sex weddings, KXLY-TV is reporting that the Knapps still say their First Amendment rights are in jeopardy despite the City of Coeur d'Alene agreeing that the Hitching Post was indeed a religious organization and was exempt from the city's nondiscrimination ordinance. In an April 2 statement, Coeur d'Alene spokesperson Keith Erickson said the city "never threatened any legal action, nor does it intend to do so" and has filed, for a second time, for dismissal of the lawsuit.

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