Idaho Chapel Will Shut Down Before Marrying Same-Sex Couples
Idaho may be on the cusp of legalizing gay marriage but officials from one popular wedding chapel say they would rather shut down than host same-sex ceremonies.
According to Idaho’s Spokesman-Review, the Hitching Post, a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, will flat out refuse to perform same-sex marriage even if they have to close after being in business for 95-years.
"We will not be marrying gay couples here," Donald Knapp, an ordained minister along with his wife, Lynn, told the newspaper. He added that he believes in traditional marriage and follows the Bible’s teaching of marriage, as do the other ministers who perform wedding at Hitching Post.
"I’m not antagonistic to people of that belief. If that’s what they want to do, they can choose to live together to do the things that they’re doing," Knapp, a member of Life Center church in Spokane, told the Review. "I cannot in good conscience perform same-sex marriages.
A federal judged ruled this week that Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional but a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to temporarily put plans for gay weddings on hold while it considers the state’s request for a longer stay.
The Review reports wedding venues that turn away same-sex couples could violate local discrimination laws. Coeur d’Alene prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The measure was adopted by the City Council in 2013 and applies to housing, employment and places of public accommodation, such as businesses and public services.
"I think that term is broad enough that it would capture (wedding) activity," city attorney Warren Wilson told the newspaper. He added that he thinks the Hitching Post "would probably be considered a place of public accommodation that would be subject to the ordinance."
The ordinance, however, does have an exemption to protect those with religious beliefs. Pastors are not obligated to perform gay marriages but non-religious businesses that hosts civil ceremonies would have to hold same-sex ceremonies, according to Wilson.
"The Hitching Post might still have an obligation to figure out a way to officiate at that ceremony," he added.
Knapp says if he has to hold gay weddings, that he would rather close the chapel’s doors.
"I may have to get out of this line of work," he said.
If he does close the chapel, he could be missing out on a big business opportunity as well.
The chapel officials took to Facebook Thursday night and wrote the following message:
"We want to thank all of you for your comments, care, love and support. Words are not enough to show our thanks."
A number of people replied, slamming the chapel for possibly closing down over gay marriage.
"There are many who do not believe in the bible, and live according to what it says... love is love... if you cannot accommodate those who have differing beliefs, you SHOULD close your doors, and not discriminate....,: one Facebook user wrote.
"You appreciate support while you discriminate against your fellow human beings because some book tells you so? The bible sure says a lot of things that nobody follows in 2014, besides no respectable gays would want to be married in your tacky chapel. I’ll be happy to see you go; don’t forget your bible," another said.
"If you run a business open to the public, you are not legally allowed to discriminate based on race, sexual orientation, disability, gender, etc.," someone wrote. "I am ashamed that this place I held so dear because I said my vows there almost 14 years ago would conduct themselves in such a deplorable fashion. Shame on you."