Is Coeur d’Alene Forcing Pastors to Marry Gay Couples or Face Jail and/or Fines?

April 27, 2015 at 11:01 AM 3 comments

Coeur d‘Alene, Idaho, city officials have laid down the law to Christian pastors within their community, telling them bluntly via an ordinance that if they refuse to marry homosexuals, they will face jail time and fines.”

Why is Hitching Post suing when the city has said they ARE exempt?

Why is Hitching Post suing when the city has said they ARE exempt?

The above statement from the Washington Times seems to make clear the intentions of city officials to force pastors to perform weddings. The problem arises from the fact that the owners of the Hitching Post refused to marry a gay couple. Hitching Post is a verified for profit business. It is not an official church, but is it a religious entity?

I put a call into the City of Coeur d’Alene and spoke with a nice woman named Amy (the Mayor’s assistant). She indicated it would be best for me to talk with the city’s legal department so she transferred me there. Another nice, friendly woman by the name of Judy answered the phone and told me that the city attorney was not in at the moment but she expected him back in soon. Judy was also kind enough to point me to the city council’s page with the minutes for each meeting.

It was about 45 minutes after I hung up with Judy that a gentleman by the name of Mike Gridley, the city of Coeur d’Alene’s attorney, responded to my initial inquiry about the city’s ordinance that allegedly wants to put pastors who refuse to marry gay couples in jail, face a fine, or both.

Mr. Gridley informed me of the city’s code and provided me a link to it. There, the actual ordinance in question can be viewed by anyone. The link to the specific ordinance is here (Chapter 9.56 DISCRIMINATION IN HOUSING, EMPLOYMENT AND PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS PROHIBITED). In short, the ordinance is a reflection of federal guidelines that prohibit any form of discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. There is also a very clear exemption contained in the ordinance which reads as follows:

“A. Notwithstanding any other provision herein, nothing in this chapter is intended to alter or abridge other rights, protections, or privileges secured under state and/or federal law. This chapter shall be construed and applied in a manner consistent with first amendment jurisprudence regarding the freedom of speech and exercise of religion.

“B. This chapter does not apply to:

1. Religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies.

2. An expressive association whose employment of a person protected by this chapter would significantly burden the association’s rights of expressive association under Boy Scouts Of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000).

3. The United States government, any of its departments or agencies, or any corporation wholly owned by it; or the state of Idaho or any of its departments, agencies, or political subdivisions, other than the city of Coeur d’Alene.

“C. This chapter shall not apply: 1) to the rental of a housing accommodation in a building which contains housing accommodations for not more than two (2) families living independently of each other, if the lessor or a member of his family resides in one of the housing accommodations, or 2) to the rental of a room or rooms in a single-family residential housing accommodation by an individual if he or a member of his family resides therein. (Ord. 3466, 2013)”

Readers should clearly note that point “B” lays out the matter of exemptions to this ordinance. Please note that “religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies” are exempt. What this means is that any religious organization (and notice that it does not stipulate that said religious organization must be “non-profit” either), is fully exempt from having to marry people whom they do not want to marry.

Mr. Gridley told me that this is done to protect religious organizations. Let’s say a gay couple goes to a church in the city of Coeur d’Alene and wants the minister of that church to marry them. On religious grounds, that minister kindly refuses to comply. The gay couple then goes to the city to file a complaint. That gay couple would be shown the existing ordinance and that would be that. Would that gay couple be able to sue the city? Yes, anyone can sue anyone for anything. Would the gay couple win? No, but that would not stop those on the left from creating a false narrative to help gain public support. Conservatives do that as well it would seem.

Mr. Gridley mentioned that Hitching Post is exempt from having to marry anyone who shows up on their doorstep because they filed papers that made them a religious organization some time ago. Nevertheless, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is suing the city on behalf of the owners of the Hitching Post. From my discussion with Mr. Gridley, this suit makes absolutely no sense. The city has moved to dismiss the pending lawsuit because there is no chance that Hitching Post will be prosecuted for not marrying a gay couple (see below).

The city has effectively issued a written letter (which includes a legal statement/opinion), to Attorney David A. Cortman, stating the following (in part):

“Based on the facts presented to the city by your clients’ pleadings in the above referenced lawsuit and further review and analysis of the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance (MC 9.56.010, et seq.) it is my opinion and the city’s position that as currently represented, the conduct by Hitching Post Weddings L.L.C. is exempt from the requirements of the ordinance and would not be subject to prosecution under the ordinance if a complaint was received by the city.” (emphasis added)

The above information was quoted directly from one of two letters Mr. Gridley sent to me as part of my research and to include in this article. In essence then, there is absolutely no reason for the Hitching Post to pursue a lawsuit against the city of Coeur d’Alene, ID since the city has officially issued to them a formal letter stating that they would be exempt from any prosecution if someone filed a complaint stating that the Hitching Post refused to marry them because they are gay.

Yet, if you read the knockout paragraph that heads this article, we learn the exact opposite. The truth of the matter is simple. Any official religious organization falls under the list of exemptions for the code in question. The city wants to keep government and religion separate and they’re doing just that.

There are real, serious attacks on Christians and Christianity happening in America. This does not appear to be one of them. Let’s save the fear-mongering rhetoric for those situations that are actually attempting to force Christians to go against their beliefs, shall we?

Entry filed under: christianity, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - Prophecy.

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  • 1. rutnerh  |  April 27, 2015 at 12:01 PM

    May I suggest that pastors or priests use non christian marriage ceremonies with formats or terminology to be mutually agreed upon by all parties among non christian partners including gays as in currently done in civil ceremonies by Justices of Peace, sea captains or any other designated officials. Meaning the pastor is acting as a secular agent of society in temporarily suspending his clerical obligation by avoiding any hypocritical reference to the Bible, God or any christian trappings. Indeed there is considerable hypocrisy even in marriages of christian couples breaking their vows in about 50% of marriages, the obvious consequence of a luke warm modern marriage vow excluding till death do us part.


    • 2. modres  |  April 27, 2015 at 12:35 PM

      What you’re suggesting is that Bible believing pastors must set aside their own personal, biblical beliefs to satisfy an extremely small but vocal segment of society.

      While I agree that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy among heterosexuals who marry, homosexuals aren’t that far behind. There have already been many divorces among gays. In fact, one lesbian couple married in Fresno, CA and divorced the next day. Spare me your own hypocritical reactionary position as you try to hold up gays as being more earnest than heterosexuals. It’s an argument that doesn’t fly.

      The same-sex debate is not about extending marital rights to gays. It’s really about destroying the sanctity of marriage in the long and short run. Numerous high-ranking gay activists have stated that marriage should not exist at all and the true purpose of the push by radical gays for same-sex marriage is really just a major step in destroying marriage altogether.

      Think about it. In the entire history of the world, NEVER has any civilization ever recognized same-sex unions. Never. While homosexuality has been around for eons, the marriage of two men or two women was never considered. Once the line is crossed, then how can we say that polygamy is wrong? Why can’t a man marry his horse? Why can’t a woman marry her dog? After all, people have been known to have sexual relations with animals. Why not recognize those unholy unions?

      As long as Justices of the Peace exist, pastors should never be required to marry anyone they don’t want to marry. My wife and I were not allowed to be married by the pastors of her church because we had not known each other for at least a year. We found another pastor and we’ve been happily married for nearly 30 years now.

      You’re entitled to your opinion, but “temporarily suspending his clerical obligation” is patently ridiculous. The ordained individual takes an oath. Unlike the seeming temporary oaths politicians take, the true person of God takes the ordination oath very seriously. A pastor is always a pastor 24/7/365. If all the pastor wanted to do was marry people, then all that’s necessary is a state-issued license. Official ordination isn’t required. For many to most pastors who DO marry people, counseling is involved. The pastor needs to determine whether or not couples are compatible and whether or not the pastor sees the impending marriage as viable.

      Besides, there are already a TON of people who make their living as “pastors” who have no difficulty marrying same-sex couples. The Presbyterians do it. The Episcopalians do it as well as some Lutherans. There are plenty of so-called pastors who already do what you suggest they do. There is no reason to FORCE every pastor to see things your way simply because you have a problem with God and the Bible.


    • 3. Stephen Pennlowe  |  April 28, 2015 at 6:25 PM

      1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
      Plea for Purity
      :3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given[a] us His Holy Spirit.

      My comment:
      Clearly those who call themselves Christians should bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. How dare we suggest that a leader of the Body of Christ (the church) throw off the cloak of righteousness to entertain the wickedness of this world if only for a season. Syncretism is compromising the truth of the Cross by adding beliefs and rituals of false religions to gain the approval of those who would otherwise reject the Gospel. An impure church is a paralyzed church and today the Protestant Church is putrefied with leaven.


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