Idaho Ministers Threatened With Jail For Refusing To Perform Same-Sex Wedding Ceremonies

A collision between marriage equality and religious liberty, but it seems clear that religious liberty should win this one.

church-state-street-signs

Donald and Eveyln Knapp, a married couple who also happen to be ordained Christian ministers, have operated The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho since 1989, although the business itself appears to date further back in the history of the city. The chapel, which just happens to be located across the street from the County Courthouse where couples can go to get marriage licenses is, according to the Knapp’s part of their ministry as Christians and has provided only Christian wedding ceremonies to anyone willing to pay the fees that the chapel charges. Although the Knapp’s consider it a ministry, the chapel is operated as a for-profit business, and operates as a limited liability company known as a Hitching Post Weddings, LLC, a company of which the Knapp’s appear to be the sole owners and which is described in its founding document as  a “religious corporation” and an “extension of their sincerely held religious beliefs” to “help people create, celebrate, and build lifetime, monogamous, one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.”  Beginning in May when a Federal District Court Judge found Idaho’s law banning same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, though, the Knapp’s have been warned by city officials that they must agree to provide wedding ceremonies to same-sex couples or risk penalties under the city’s anti-discrimination law, which could include fines and up to 180 days in jail:

The Hitching Post is one of the most well known chapels in the Inland Northwest. In its 95 years of operation thousands of people have been married in the small chapel. But the owners are willing to walk away if the ban on gay marriage is permanently lifted.

When the future of same-sex marriage in Idaho is finally sorted out in court, the owners of the Hitching Post said they are prepared to close their doors rather than conduct same-sex marriages.

“I think the Bible is pretty clear that homosexuality is not his way, and therefore I cannot unite people in a way that I believe would conflict with what the Bible teaches,” Hitching Post owner Donald Knapp said.

When it comes to who can and can’t be married at chapels like the Hitching Post, Warren Wilson at the Coeur d’Alene City Attorney’s Office references a different set of rules. The laws of the land.

“For profit wedding chapels are in a position now where last week the ban would have prevented them from performing gay marriages, this week gay marriages are legal, pending an appeal to the 9th Circuit,” Warren Wilson with the Coeur d’Alene City Attorney’s Office said.

The 9th Circuit Court hasn’t yet issued a stay but they are putting a halt to gay marriages until they make a decision.

If gay marriage stands, by law Knapp wouldn’t have a choice as to whether he would marry same-sex couples.

“If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services for them, then in theory you violated our code and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation,” Wilson said.

Therefore the Hitching Post may be facing their last summer and the thought is hard for the owners.

“The people of Idaho spoke when they passed the law regarding marriage, but it seems to me like it’s no longer by the people of the people and for the people, but what one judge decides,” Knapp said.

Knapp said he’s okay with other ministers performing marriages at their facilities but it is not something he will do.

“I don’t hate those people. I don’t think anybody should ever be abusive or mistreat them or anything like that, but I cannot in clear conscience unite such a couple,” Knapp said.

That article is from May, and in a contemporaneous piece Knapp talks further about the issue and what he and his wife would do if the city told them that they personally had to officiate at a ceremony they believed to be in contravention of their religious beliefs. Now that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Idaho’s appeal of that May ruling, and the Supreme Court refused to enter a stay on the ruling, same-sex marriage is the law of the land in the state and the dilemma that the Knapp’s faced in May is now reality. That has led them, represented by counsel and an organization called the Alliance Defending Freedom to file suit on their behalf seeking a Federal Court Injunction against enforcement of the law against them:

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”

“The government exists to protect and respect our freedoms, not attack them,” Tedesco added. “The city cannot erase these fundamental freedoms and replace them with government coercion and intolerance.”

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is across the street from the Kootenai County Clerk’s office, which issues marriage licenses. The Knapps, both in their 60s and who themselves have been married for 47 years, began operating the wedding chapel in 1989 as a ministry. They perform religious wedding ceremonies, which include references to God, the invocation of God’s blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible designed to encourage the couple and help them to have a successful marriage, and more. They also provide each couple they marry with a CD that includes two sermons about marriage, and they recommend numerous Christian books on the subject. The Knapps charge a small fee for their services.

Coeur d’Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city’s public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel. On Friday, the Knapps respectfully declined such a ceremony and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.

When I first read about this story late yesterday, I was somewhat skeptical about the claims I was seeing about the potential for jail time in this situation. Ordinarily, anti-discrimination laws involving public accommodations such as the one at issue here are civil in nature and the penalties that can be enforced are limited to fines and Court orders that the offending party comply with the law. Theoretically, of course, someone can be jailed for failure to comply with a Court Order. However, it does appear that the law in question, which can be found here, does include a provision classifying a violation of the act as a misdemeanor and, under the City Code, punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment not to exceed one hundred eighty (180) days.” So, it does appear that the Knapp’s are potentially facing jail time here  because of their refusal to provide wedding services to same-sex couples.

This isn’t a new issue, of course. With the increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage across the nation, there have been several cases involving wedding vendors who have refused to provide services to gay couples and have run afoul of anti-discrimination or public accommodation laws in various jurisdictions. In Washington State, a florist found herself in litigation over her refusal to provide services to a same-sex couple’s wedding. In Colorado, it was a baker who refused to bake cakes for same-sex weddings and found himself running afoul of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In a New Jersey case that arose before that state had even legalized same-sex marriage a church that operated a beach venue that was generally open to the public for weddings and other events was told that it could not ban same-sex couples from renting the venue under the state’s anti-discrimination law. A New York couple was fined some $13,000 for refusing to allow a lesbian couple to use their farm for their wedding, an event which caused them to cease making the farm available for any wedding at all. And, perhaps most famously, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled last year that an Albuquerque photographer had violated an anti-discrimination ordinance when he refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of that decision alleging, among other things, that the photographer’s First Amendment rights outside of the issue of religion had been violated.

Each of these cases, among others, have been cited by opponents of same-sex marriage as evidence that recognition of same-sex marriage would harm religious liberty because it would force people to recognize, and provide services for, unions that violate their religious beliefs. What is actually involved here, of course, is a clash between the religious liberty claims of business owners and the public interest as expressed in anti-discrimination laws, such as the one in Coeur d’Alene, that include protections not only for discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, and religion, but also sexual orientation. For the most part, these laws already contain exemptions for explicitly religious and other institutions; indeed, the law in question here has such exemptions itself. The difference here is that the Knapps operate the Hitching Post as a for-profit business, and have incorporated it as a limited liability company for tax and other liability purposes. In some sense, then, the Hitching Post as a business is somewhat analogous to Hobby Lobby and other businesses in their opposition to the PPACA’s contraceptive coverage mandate. However, because of the fact that the city is essentially trying to mandate that the Knapp’s themselves perform certain acts, it strikes me that they have a much stronger case than the Plaintiffs in those cases did.

Eugene Volokh looks at the situation and finds that the Knapps have a strong case:

[T]he Knapps moved for a temporary restraining order, arguing that applying the antidiscrimination ordinance to them would be unconstitutional and would also violate Idaho’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I think that has to be right: compelling them to speak words in ceremonies that they think are immoral is an unconstitutional speech compulsion. Given that the Free Speech Clause bars the government from requiring public school students to say the pledge of allegiance, or even from requiring drivers to display a slogan on their license plates (Wooley v. Maynard (1977)), the government can’t require ministers — or other private citizens — to speak the words in a ceremony, on pain of either having to close their business or face fines and jail time. (If the minister is required to conduct a ceremony that contains religious language, that would violate the Establishment Clause as well.)

I think the Knapps are also entitled to an exemption under the Idaho RFRA. The Knapps allege that “sincerely held religious beliefs prohibit them from performing, officiating, or solemnizing a wedding ceremony between anyone other than one man and one woman”; I know of no reason to think they’re lying about their beliefs. Requiring them to violate their beliefs (or close their business) is a substantial burden on their religious practice.

And I find it hard to see a compelling government interest in barring sexual orientation discrimination by ministers officiating in a chapel. Whatever interests there may be in equal access to jobs, to education, or even in most public accommodations, I don’t see how there would be a “compelling” government interest in preventing discrimination in the provision of ceremonies, especially ceremonies conducted by ministers in chapels.

Volokh is correct, and his point is strengthened even more by the statement from Knapp in the article from May that I highlighted above in which he states that he would be fine with same-sex couples using his facility, and presumably paying a fee for doing so, as long as and his wife weren’t the ones required to perform the ceremony. To me, this seems like a completely reasonable accommodation under the circumstances. No doubt, the Hitching Post benefits from the fact that it is located directly across the street from the County Courthouse where people go to get their marriage licenses. Apparently, the business has been in that location for quite a long period of time and no doubt has provided services many times to people who had gotten their licenses and decided to complete the process by simply going across the street to have the marriage solemnized and made legal by someone authorized by the state to perform wedding ceremonies.

However, the Knapps are not government employees, unlike the New York Town Clerk who refused to provide liceses to same-sex couples after that state legalize same-sex marriage, they are private citizens, and private citizens who are ordained ministers who see themselves as having a religious mission in presiding over wedding ceremonies at that. Forcing them to solemnize a marriage that they object to on a religious basis because they happen to be operating a for profit business. The issues here are also quite different from those involving the wedding services vendors. In those cases, we are talking about people who are engaged in what are clearly non-religious services who are saying that their religious beliefs should give them an exemption from otherwise generally applicable laws. This is an issue that will need to make its way through the court system. In this case, the Knapps are ordained ministers who perform explicitly religious wedding ceremonies who object to same-sex marriage. They have said that they are willing to allow their venue to be used for same-sex weddings as long as they are not compelled to do preside over the ceremony. Forcing them to do so would be as much a violation of their religious liberty as it would be if we were talking about the Roman Catholic Bishop of Boise. Even if one believes that the Knapps are wrong in their disapproval of same-sex marriage, and I believe that they are, they have a right to hold that belief and they have a right under the First Amendment to no be compelled to preside over a religious service under circumstances that they object to. The city is wrong here, and the Knapps ought to prevail.

Here is the Complaint filed on behalf of the Knapps:

Knapp Et Al v. City of Coeur D’Alene by Doug Mataconis

And here is the Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order:

Knapp Et Al v. City of Coeur D’Alene TRO by Doug Mataconis

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Religion, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    SCOTUS has established Christianity as the Nat’l religion…and opened the door for anyone to avoid any law simply by claiming a religious exemption.
    No way they do time.




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  2. legion says:

    You’re right on the import of this, Doug:

    The difference here is that the Knapps operate the Hitching Post as a for-profit business, and have incorporated it as a limited liability company for tax and other liability purposes.

    But I feel you and Volokh are both wrong on the exemption part, and this ought to be the sort of thing that gets the abominable Hobby Lobby decision back in front of SCOTUS (though hopefully under different justices by the time it works its way back up) for an overturning.

    These people are pretty clearly trying to take advantage of the benefits of both being a church (we don’t have to follow all the laws, because GOD), and a corporation (we want to make profits, because GOD). While I agree that the Hobby Lobby ruling permits this, I think that’s also the prime exhibit showing that it is a horrific decision that should never have been made.




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  3. Jack says:

    So, apparently in Idaho, I can force a Rabbi to perform a devil worship ceremony as long as he makes money for performing ceremonies. I can also force a Muslim to lead a bris ceremony. To hell with personal beliefs, if you get paid money, you have to do what I tell you to do.




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  4. @legion:

    If they really are willing to let their venue be used for a same-sex marriage ceremony as long as they aren’t the ones performing it, then on what basis can they as individuals be forced to perform the ceremony?




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  5. HarvardLaw92 says:

    They established an LLC. Separate legal entity. Hello?

    They would not be subject to the mandates of the statute – their corporation would be, and rightly so.

    In other words, the city officials are misreading the statute. The corporation has to provide equal access to its services, and can be fined for failing to do so. The individual ministers who own it do not, and therefore can not.

    His offer of an accommodation whereby the facility is equally available to any potential client that seeks access to its services seems reasonable enough to me to satisfy the terms of the statute, so problem solved.




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  6. Jack says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Legion doesn’t understand that pastors and rabbis still submit personal income taxes regardless of the tax exempt status of their church.




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  7. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @legion:

    I think that’s also the prime exhibit showing that it is a horrific decision that should never have been made.

    Bingo. A corporation can not hold a belief, ergo it can not enjoy any constitutional protections afforded to beliefs, regardless of the mental gymnastics Roberts & Co. were willing to engage in to find a way to say that one can.




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  8. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Still wetting your panties over Ebola, Jack?




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  9. @HarvardLaw92:

    A good point, but given that the statute defines “Person” as “Any natural person, firm, corporation, partnership or other organization, association or group of persons however arranged.” I’m sure the City at least thinks they can apply it against the Knapp’s individually. Additionally, if jail time is really an opinion, well you can’t really put an LLC in jail. The business would be a tougher case, but even there Idaho’s version of the RFRA would seem to arguably apply.




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  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack:

    The entity in question is not a church.




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  11. Scott says:

    I would like to have sympathy for the ordained ministers in this case. I’m sure they view their work as a ministry; however, they are operating as a business. And the deal in this country is that religion and businesses are separately viewed by law. If they only operated as a church with suggested honoraria, then they would be on more solid ground. As a general public policy, we don’t want churches running businesses and vice versa and this couple is violating that concept.




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  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Which, again, IMO is a legal fantasyland for the reasons laid out above. Corporations are not people. They do not, and can not, hold beliefs. Ever. Period. End of subject.

    You don’t (or shouldn’t) get to shield yourself from liability via the corporate veil, then turn around and pretend that it doesn’t exist when it suits you. I eagerly await the day when a reconstituted court views the Hobby Lobby decision with the same degree of disdain that the court showed for Bowers in Lawrence. The decision (indeed the entire line of reasoning employed therein) was, and remains, deeply flawed.




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  13. Paul Hooson says:

    I’m certainly in favor Gay equality, however it seems clearly unconstitutional to enforce any religion forcing them to conduct anything in violation of their faith.




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  14. C. Clavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Right…the Koch Brothers, being a closely held corporation, should either be liable for the deaths of their employees…or not have religious beliefs. Not both.




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  15. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: Still leaving skidmarks in your tighty whiteys, Clavin?




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  16. Mikey says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    You don’t (or shouldn’t) get to shield yourself from liability via the corporate veil, then turn around and pretend that it doesn’t exist when it suits you.

    That’s the key distinction here that a lot of people who oppose same-sex marriage will miss (or deliberately avoid). This isn’t a church–it’s a business, a public accommodation.

    The owners want their business treated as a business until it becomes inconvenient to their religious beliefs, then they want it treated as a church.

    Apparently they need to brush up on Matthew 6:24…




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  17. Jack says:

    @Scott: Yet, when gay marriage was being challenged across this nation, people constantly said pastors/clergy would be safe. Yeah, we see how that’s working out.




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  18. Jack says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Agreed. Yet you cannot force a person to speak.




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  19. beth says:

    @Jack: This isn’t a church, it’s a business. No one is suggesting churches have to perform same sex weddings against their beliefs.




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  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack:

    Which, you’ll note, I agreed with above. The individual owners can’t and shouldn’t be required to do anything here. The CORPORATION that they formed, however, is a different story.

    It has no religious beliefs (legal fantasies delivered by Roberts & Co. notwithstanding), ergo it has no basis for asserting any form of relief from otherwise legitimate public accommodation laws.

    The city should simply amend its complaint to target only the business. Since the owners seem perfectly amendable to hosting whatever ceremonies seek access as long as they don’t have to personally perform those ceremonies, problem solved.

    Of course, the hyperventilators in the evangelical community, convinced as they are that religion should afford them an exemption from anything they dislike, will still go off the deep end over this anyway.




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  21. Donald Sensing says:

    @beth:

    Yet.




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  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Short version: count me among the people who consider Boerne v. Flores to be the valid opinion with regard to RFRA. Hobby Lobby was and remains a stain on the law.




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  23. Jack says:

    @HarvardLaw92: The answer then, is to hire a minister/pastor to work for the corporation that would be willing to perform same sex marriages. Yet, as of now, there is no employee willing to perform that ceremony.




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  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack:

    For the 900th time today, this is not a church. Does my rabbi, for example, get to claim a religious exemption if he tells gentiles that they can’t patronize his bar?

    (Yes, my rabbi owns a bar. It’s NY – get over it 😀 )




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  25. Jack says:

    @beth: I know, that is why I stated:

    So, apparently in Idaho, I can force a Rabbi to perform a devil worship ceremony as long as he makes money for performing ceremonies. I can also force a Muslim to lead a bris ceremony. To hell with personal beliefs, if you get paid money to perform a service, you have to do what I tell you to do.




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  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack: No, the answer is to make the facility freely available to any couple in possession of a marriage license who seek to utilize it, and let them bring their own officiant.

    Truthfully, on some level I suspect that the city’s actions here are a solution in search of a problem. Most every gay couple that I know doesn’t want to get within 100 miles of facilities like this when they get married, for one simple reason – they have no interest in allowing bigots to ruin their special day.




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  27. Jack says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I know this is not a church. This is a business, effectively a partnership or sole proprietorship. Could you please point out where I said this was a church?




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  28. beth says:

    @Jack: If the Muslim has a business performing bris ceremonies, then yes, he’s bound by law to perform it for anyone who comes to his place of business. Same with the Rabbi if his business if he runs a devil worship facility. Do you not understand the legal difference between a church and a business?




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  29. @legion:

    These people are pretty clearly trying to take advantage of the benefits of both being a church (we don’t have to follow all the laws, because GOD), and a corporation (we want to make profits, because GOD).

    Some of us would prefer that churches be corporated as for profit businesses rather than non-profit charities.




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  30. JKB says:

    I would think the city would have an additional hurdle since in many states, ordained ministers are included in those who can perform sign off on a marriage for the state using their faith’s practices. However, the ordain minister does not have any authority absent their ordination by their religion. Most state laws don’t confer Justice of the Peace or other civil status upon the minister independent of their status in the religion.

    From the Idaho statute

    or minister of the gospel of any denomination.

    Interesting, apparently, only Christian ministers can solemnize a marriage in Idaho? As all the other listed individuals are secular government officials or Indian tribal officials.




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  31. Jack says:

    @beth: Good Fracking GOD! Where have I said church in any of my posts??

    A rabbi performs religious services, a Muslim performs religious services. Effectively, I should be able to hire them to perform MY religious service of my choosing. Just because my religious service offends them doesn’t mean they shouldn’t perform it. At least in Idaho.




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  32. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack:

    The role of a minister is protected within the confines of his/her function as the pastor of a church. It does not, and should not, extend beyond those confines.

    Which is why I mentioned my rabbi. At his bar, he’s not a rabbi. He’s David, and his bar doesn’t become a temple when he walks through the door.

    This is not a church, ergo while these people may BE ordained ministers, they are not ACTING as ordained ministers within the context of this business. They’re no different than a cruise ship captain marrying a couple at sea. They are providing a secular service, via a secular business. Your entire religious argument is, as I noted, an exercise in hyperventilating.




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  33. JKB says:

    That’s interesting. Idaho has a copyright notice on their Code




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  34. beth says:

    @Jack: See Harvard’s reply. You are dead wrong on the law in this.




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  35. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Good Fracking GOD!
    Not unless they are running a business incorporated as an LLC, or similar, and are enjoying the benefits of the “corporate veil”.




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  36. C. Clavin says:

    @beth:

    You are dead wrong

    Wow…that’s never happened before.
    /snark




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  37. trumwill says:

    It doesn’t matter to me that it’s a business. The case still involves forcing a pastor to perform a religious ceremony in a case where he religiously objects. Forming an LLC does not mean that you leave all of your beliefs at the front door.

    I favor gay marriage and have for a decade and a half. I favor anti-discrimination law covering anti-war discrimination. But unless new information comes to light, this isn’t even close.

    Fortunately, the courts will almost certainly slap this down. And I’ll have a better response when the anti-SSM people talk about how the slippery slope is going to lead to forcing the RCC to perform gay marriages. Because right now that slope isn’t as steady as I thought it was.




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  38. Jack says:

    @HarvardLaw92: This couple performs Christian religious services. There are numerous beliefs and denominations among Christians. As ordained ministers that perform Christian marriage services. Some Christian denominations believe that homosexuality goes against God’s word. Just as if I were asking them to perform a Jewish wedding or a Muslim wedding, or a Hindu wedding…all of which I presume they would deny my request, they should be able to deny the request to perform a wedding for a gay couple.




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  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I think it has to be an either / or

    As in: either you adhere to and follow the conditions attached to your tax exemption, in their entirety, without exception, or you agree to forfeit your exemption.

    This whole getting to have their cake and eat it too thing that churches engage in with respect to taxes just nauseates me, and they get by with it because the IRS is too chickenshite to crack down on them.




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  40. Jack says:

    @beth: Again, Beth, you cannot force people to speak, thus you cannot force them to speak at a wedding.




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  41. JKB says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Well, according to the law, they must be ministers of the gospel or they cannot solemnize the marriage.

    So how can they not be ministers of the gospel when performing the ceremony, even as part of a business? Because if they aren’t a minister of the gospel when they perform the ceremony, they are not lawfully able to solemnize the marriage?

    I like that according the the statute, non-Christian denominations and religions cannot solemnize a marriage. Oops.




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  42. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: If I hire a Hip-Hop DJ to play at my function, I cannot expect him to spin John Denver CDs all night long. Even if he is an LLC.




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  43. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack:

    Big

    Fecking

    Deal

    This is not a church. It is a secular, for-profit business entity, ergo they are not acting within a protected role.

    Again, though, I seriously doubt that any gay couple is going to want to get anywhere near their business, so the issue seems to me to be academic at this point.




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  44. Scott says:

    @Jack:

    This couple performs Christian religious services.

    No, this couple sells Christian religious services. There is a difference. If they perform the services free of charge (or a voluntary honoraria) I would agree with you.




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  45. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Of course you can.
    That just may be the dumbest response ever recorded at OTB.




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  46. CSK says:

    FTA: “= [The Knapps] perform religious ceremonies, which include references to God, the invocation of God’s blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible…”

    The question in my mind is why anyone, straight or gay, seeking such a service wouldn’t go to a church to have the marriage performed. Why would you go to a place called The Hitching Post, which sounds like a bar, to have your vows solemnized? Is it that hard to book a church in Idaho?

    If you really need God at your wedding, isn’t a church the best place to find Him?

    My question doesn’t address the difficulty some gay couples might encounter finding a pastor willing to perform the ceremony (though this doesn’t seem to be an issue on my neck of the woods), but nonetheless, if you want a religious ceremony, why not go for the real thing?




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  47. DrDaveT says:

    All of you people talking about “forcing them to perform ceremonies” are just making stuff up. The law has no power to force anyone to do anything, and most of you know it (but prefer the incendiary language). On the part of our hosts here at OTB, it’s pure yellow journalism.

    What the law actually says is that if you operate a for-profit business, you can’t choose whom to serve and whom not to serve. If these ministers were refusing to marry inter-racial couples, nobody would see a problem here, even if they claimed a religious basis for that refusal.

    The Knapps are perfectly free to marry only those couples they choose to marry, so long as they don’t do it for profit — just as they would be free to marry only same-race couples, or only people more than 6 feet tall, or only people they like the smell of. Once they set up as a corporation under the laws of Idaho, though, they have to serve all comers or face legal penalties. Why is this hard?

    Either way, there is no provision in the law to force anyone to do anything. Fining and/or jailing you if you don’t is not, in any way, the same thing as forcing you to do something. It certainly provides an incentive, but you always have the option to say no (and take the punishment), or say no (and get out of the business).




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  48. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    The law treats ordination as one of the qualifications for being an officiant with respect to the state’s legal construct of civil marriage. You are confusing the two hats that a minister wears during a marriage ceremony.

    With respect to the secular, legal construct of civil marriage, the ordained minster (or any other officiant) is acting as a secular agent of the state with respect to two parties being joined in a civil marriage.

    With respect to holy matrimony, the ordained minister MAY be acting in a religious context as well IF the couple in question is also seeking the approval of the church in question to enter into holy matrimony, which is a sectarian construct reserved to the church and which has absolutely nothing to do with civil marriage beyond the fact that the two constructs MAY be entered into at the same time via one ceremony.




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  49. @HarvardLaw92:

    The donations collected by a church are overwhelmingly used to provide services to the church’s own members, an activity that would not be considered charitable in any other context.

    If I go to a psychologist for marriage counseling, I can’t claim the payments to him are charitable donations. Why are they if I pay a priest for marriage counseling?

    If I join a country club, I can’t claim those as charitable donations. Why are payments for the church potluck or softball team treated as such?

    Churches should be allowed to deduct money they spend on actual charitable activities, just like any corporation, but given they’re largely combination counseling/self-help/social clubs, they shouldn’t be treated differently than other corporations just because they say Jesus a lot.




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  50. Rafer Janders says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Most every gay couple that I know doesn’t want to get within 100 miles of facilities like this when they get married, for one simple reason – they have no interest in allowing bigots to ruin their special day.

    Plus, it’s kind of tacky….




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  51. @DrDaveT:

    If these ministers were refusing to marry inter-racial couples, nobody would see a problem here, even if they claimed a religious basis for that refusal.

    While recognizing that the government played a major role in institutionalizing racism, and thus has a corresponding role to undo the results of it’s own bad acts, I do in fact see a problem with forcing a minister to marry inter-racial couples against the minister’s will.




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  52. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    LOL, true, but it’s Idaho. Women in high heels and socks. One can only expect so much.




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  53. gVOR08 says:

    I confess to considerable indifference to the rights of Hitching Post Weddings, LLC. I might be able to muster some concern for the pair of “reverends”, if I felt their beliefs to be genuine. The linked article doesn’t say. Who trained them? Who ordained them? What are the beliefs of their parent church? Or did they get their ordination from some mail order non-denominational diploma mill for business purposes?




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  54. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    And I agree, but with the caveat that churches are not ENTITLED to those exemptions simply because they are churches. We as a society decided to extend them 1) because it’s good public policy to encourage charitable activities and 2) because it’s a good idea to keep religion and government as far away from one another as possible.

    In furtherance of #2, we attached a lot of conditions to these exemptions, which churches agree to when they exercise the exemption, but they typically decide that because they don’t think they should have to abide by the conditions, they simply ignore them.

    It harkens to the fundamental problem with religion (IMO): someone who believes in it can pretty much justify ANYthing that they want or rationalize ANYthing being slanted in their favor by invoking it. The wall between religion and state should be 200 miles high, and at least as wide, IMO.




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  55. humanoid.panda says:

    @Jack: I don’t there is a single person who thinks that the pastors should be forced to officiate a wedding that they don’t, won’t or can’t officiate, either here on this forum, or anywhere else. The argument is simple: in ADDITION to being pastors, they also own a business that provides services to the general public. The business cannot discriminate according to Idaho Law, so while they cannot be forced to conduct the ceremony, they also cannot refuse access to their facilities on the basis of sexual orientation. The pastors themselves recognize this, by offering to rent out the space to gay couples. So, there is no there there, as all sides (maybe besides the city, but notice that the city didn’t sue the pastors; they sued the city) seem to be in agreement, so what is the problem?




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  56. Rafer Janders says:

    @trumwill:

    Forming an LLC does not mean that you leave all of your beliefs at the front door.

    Yes, it sort of does, at least as far as your individual religious beliefs.

    Rafer Janders may be a baptized Catholic. RafJanCo, on the other hand, has never been baptized nor is a member of the Catholic Church, because RafJanCo is not a person but a limited liability corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of New York. The actions of Rafer Janders while acting in his capacity as president and CEO of RafJanCo, are not exempt from NY State laws of general applicability merely because they may or may not offend the sensibilities of the private citizen Rafer Janders.




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  57. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I do in fact see a problem with forcing a minister to marry inter-racial couples against their will

    Then it’s a good thing that NOBODY IS FORCING ANYONE TO DO ANYTHING HERE. For Pete’s sake, did you even read what I wrote?

    Nobody is being forced to do anything. Say that over to yourself until it sinks in. No jack-booted thugs are going to tase the Knapps until they speak the words that unite Bob and Larry in unholy matrimony. The Knapps are perfectly free to NOT DO IT — so long as they don’t set up shop as a for-profit business that provides marriage services, or are willing to accept the court-determined punishments for breaking that law.

    I should have said “refuse to serve inter-racial couples at their diner”, just to get away from the knee-jerk church vibe. Would you agree that the Knapps do not have the right to run a restaurant where they refuse to serve inter-racial couples? Do you see that the law would have the power to fine and/or imprison the Knapps if they did this, but would NOT have the power to physically force them to serve lunch to anyone?




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  58. humanoid.panda says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Right and I don’t think that ever happened or will happen. The question is what would the people who are shocked about coercion do in a parallel situation if a wedding chapel, a for-profit business, will refuse access to inter-racial couples. I suspect that the distinction between forcing a pastor to officiate a wedding and forcing a business owner to provide universal access to his premises will become clearer to everyone.




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  59. Rafer Janders says:

    @gVOR08:

    Who trained them? Who ordained them? What are the beliefs of their parent church? Or did they get their ordination from some mail order non-denominational diploma mill for business purposes?

    Well, with regard to this point, who cares? All religion is just a made-up story, and every religion traces its origin back only as far as some guy who decided to invent a religion. I fail to see why getting ordained from a mail order diploma mill is any more or less valid than getting ordained from, say, the New England Theological Seminary. It’s like arguing over who had authority to appoint you dungeonmaster in D&D.




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  60. humanoid.panda says:

    @gVOR08: This is is, or should be irrelevant. The First Amendment provides (or should provide) the same protection for Catholic priests as it does to Pastafarian pastors.




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  61. humanoid.panda says:

    @DrDaveT: This sounds good in theory, but the practical meaning of this is that someone who is not an agent of the state has, under penalty of law, to say some words that he doesn’t want to say. Isn’t a better reading of the statute is that Bob the Pastor cannot be forced to officiate a wedding, but Mr. Bob, the owner of the Bob Wedding Chappel, has to provide access to the public to his place of secular business?




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  62. JKB says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I’m not confusing anything. What I said was that the secular authority only vested in them when they were acting as ministers of the gospel (according to statute). No independent authority is conferred. The mayor can only solemnize marriages as long as he/she is the mayor. The secular authority is attached to the office.

    I suppose the question is what conditions and responsibilities are imposed by the ordaining authority of their ministry?




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  63. @DrDaveT:

    Is there any other context we’d accept that logic?

    If we demanded all for profit publishers allow a government censor to edit their work, would you argue that didn’t violate their speech rights because they can still write as long as it’s not for money? If we banned any for profit medical institutions from doing abortions, would that not be an infringement because doctors could still do them for free, just not for money?

    You’re basically arguing that rights should only exist for people independently wealthy.




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  64. trumwill says:

    @Rafer Janders: No, it doesn’t. I was against the Hobby Lobby decision, but if there was an upside to it, it is that it reaffirmed this.

    The pastors should (and almost certainly will) retain the right to not be legally required to perform religious ceremonies or give up their business.




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  65. Rafer Janders says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    This sounds good in theory, but the practical meaning of this is that someone who is not an agent of the state has, under penalty of law, to say some words that he doesn’t want to say.

    If you don’t want to say some words, then the solution to your problem is simple: don’t open and run a word-saying business that must, under state law, be open to the general public.

    If you only want to say some words to a select few, however, you can open and run a word-saying church.

    But as soon as you start advertising as a word-saying business, and start charging fees to say words, then yes, you may indeed be forced to say some words you don’t like. But the state never put a gun to your head and forced you to open, run and advertise your word-saying busines in the first place.




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  66. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    No. The secular authority in only vested in them upon their demonstrating to the state’s satisfaction that they meet one of a variety of criteria mandated by the state with respect to being an officiant for the purposes of Idaho law.

    It’s not different than the state saying “one of the qualifications which satisfies the requirements for being a dog poo scooper-upper is ordination.” Dog poo-scooping doesn’t magically become a religious activity simply because a minister is performing it.

    And civil marriage does NOT become a religious ceremony / construct simply because an ordained minister is performing the ceremony. Within the context of officiating a civil marriage, the ordained minister is no different than, and operates in the exact same capacity as, any other officiant approved by the state. Key concept there – from a legal standpoint, a minister, a judge, and a mayor acting as an officiant for a civil marriage are performing the EXACT same service.

    Civil marriage, holy matrimony. Again – two hats which have nothing, at all, to do with one another. The state is not getting into the business of holy matrimony simply because a minister is performing a secular service as its agent.




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  67. beth says:

    @trumwill: But you say it yourself – a business. We have determined in this country that public businesses must serve the public. You talk about slippery slopes – do you really want to go down the one that says all anyone needs to do is voice a religious objection to something in order to discriminate? Haven’t we tried that before with horrible consequences? So Harvard’s rabbi bar owner can refuse to serve Christians?




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  68. C. Clavin says:

    Where in the bible does it say you should treat your fellow man with contempt and disrespect?
    Love thy neighbor…unless you think anal is icky?
    Honor all people…except the gays.
    You shall love your neighbor as yourself…unless they set off your gaydar.
    There are hardly any mentions of homosexuality in the new testament and even those are pretty vague…and their meanings are widely disputed by actual scholars.
    I’m not sure where this religious belief

    “as defined by the Holy Bible.”

    comes from.
    If we are going to allow anybody to abstain from following any law just by claiming to have so-called religious beliefs…then I think we have to stop taking this stuff at face value. Otherwise our laws will mean nothing…and we will be subject to whims of zealots and grifters claiming anything they please.




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  69. trumwill says:

    @beth: Businesses are made of people. A pastor shouldn’t have to work specifically for a church in order to not be legally required to perform ceremonies that contradict his beliefs.

    And no, I don’t this this applies outside of religious and/or artistic enterprises.

    There is a lot of muddy ground here and I don’t like having to sort between religious and non-religious activities or trying to discern between sincerely held and insincerity held beliefs. But if the alternative is this here, I think it’s what we have to do.

    I don’t think that the slippery slope will actually take us to requiring churches to perform weddings. But I honestly didn’t think that it would take us here. (Fortunately, I don’t think the courts will actually let it.)




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  70. gVOR08 says:

    @Rafer Janders: I would agree, if the RW and the courts were eager to extend religious rights to anyone who made up some beliefs yesterday. Somehow I am skeptical that our courts would extend the same rights to Pastafarians as to Catholics. And I think we’re entitled to question the sincerity of belief.




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  71. Eric Florack says:

    @C. Clavin: Which makes less sense, Clavin?
    Someone who believes in a God they can’t see, or …
    SOMONE CONSTANTLY OFFENDED BY SOMETHING THEY DONT BELIEFE EXISTS?




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  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @trumwill:

    Immaterial. People form corporations, which are distinct and separate legal entities. As I said above, you don’t get to do this “it’s a separate and distinct legal entity when it suits me” garbage. It’s an either / or question. Either something is distinct and separate, or it is not.

    As an individual, no person can be forced to do anything, say anything, or believe anything WHEN ACTING AS AN INDIVIDUAL.

    When you propose to form a corporation, and that corporation proposes to do business with the public, it absolutely can be forced, because, and this is important – while legally it may be considered to be like a person, it is not a person. It has no beliefs to offend which need to be protected. The beliefs of the owners are theirs to hold, and the easiest way to protect them is pretty obvious – don’t go into business in the first place if you have a problem with public accommodation laws.




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  73. Rafer Janders says:

    @trumwill:

    The pastors should (and almost certainly will) retain the right to not be legally required to perform religious ceremonies or give up their business.

    But they are not performing a religious ceremony — they are, instead, performing a civil ceremony. It’s a civil marriage ceremony, not a religious one.

    No one is forcing the Reverend Mr. Knapp, pastor of The Hitching Post Church, to perform a religious ceremony he objects to in his church.

    The state is, however, penalizing Mr. Knapp, president of The Hitching Post, LLC, a limited liability corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Idaho, for not offering for-fee civil marriage ceremonies to all Idaho residents who have obtained a valid marriage license from the State of Idaho and are willing and able to pay the The Hitching Post, LLC’s publicly advertised fee to perform such ceremonies for which The Hitching Post, LLC has been duly licensed by the state.




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  74. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Eric Florack:

    He’s not offended by G-d; just G-d’s followers.




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  75. beth says:

    @trumwillOkay fine. Say the rabbi is a wedding photographer. Is he allowed to advertise “Jewish weddings only”? How about a Christian wedding photographer who advertises “White People Only”? You really want to live in that society?




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  76. Gustopher says:

    How is this different than pharmacists who won’t dispense prescriptions they have a religious objection to? I think that performing a religious act (marrying people) ought to have more protections than dispensing prescriptions. And both of those ought to have more protection than baking a cake.

    Yes, this wedding factory is a business. Yes, it has church-like trappings. In a just world, you would have to pick whether you are a social club or open to the public, and they would all pay taxes, but this isn’t a just world.

    Will someone just add an exemption to the damned law so employees don’t have to perform marriages they disagree with, so we don’t end up with an overly broad court ruling that lets everyone discriminate against everyone-else for religious reasons?




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  77. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:

    There are hardly any mentions of homosexuality in the new testament

    There ain’t a lot in there about marriage either. Certainly nothing that limits it explicitly to a man and a woman.
    Leapin’ lizards…the bible talks about polygamy…would the Knapps be willing to officiate a wedding like that?




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  78. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    “How is this different than pharmacists who won’t dispense prescriptions they have a religious objection to?”

    It’s not, and they shouldn’t be protected either.




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  79. Modulo Myself says:

    I have friends who were recently married. The first person they went to, a mayor of a nearby town, refused to perform the marriage because he said he did not not do gay marriages. Eventually, of course, this mayor, unless starts performing civil marriages for gay couples, is going to have trouble. But my friends found it somewhat appalling and typical and they got married somewhere else.

    The moral is is that people who have actually been refused services and discriminated against handle it much better than the Christians who lose it whenever they don’t get to bully others around like they would like, and this is what has destroyed Christians in the public eye. I think behind Hobby Lobby was the hope that more Christians would not come back with more bigotry, and that somehow, in the next five or so years, the religious right would learn how to treat others as they demand to be treated. I don’t see that happening, though.




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  80. humanoid.panda says:

    @Eric Florack: Let’s invent use a simple metaphor. Let’s say I declare myself the high-priest of the Religion of the Great Divine Snake of Vengeance. The main tenet of the religion of the Great Divine Snake of Retribution is to play loud music outside Erick Florack’s house at 3AM every night. Now clearly, you can’t get offended by the Great Divine Snake Retribution, as you don’t believe it exists. You, however, will be justifiably offended at the High Priest, amirite?




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  81. Mikey says:

    @trumwill: If a pastor wants to set up a storefront business that qualifies as a public accommodation under the law, he should expect to have to comply with laws that apply to public accommodations, including the ones that prohibit discrimination on whatever bases the legislature has deemed fit to include in said law.

    If the same pastor goes into his church, he is free to conduct, or not conduct, wedding ceremonies in accordance with his beliefs in the religious context, since the church isn’t a business under the law.

    The owners of “The Hitching Post” want to eat their ecclesiastical cake and have it too.




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  82. humanoid.panda says:

    @beth: I might be wrong, but I think that photographers and so forth are allowed to publicize White Weddings only. They cannot however incorporate and declare themselves as businesses that are open to the general public and then offer services to White people only.




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  83. jvestal says:

    Here’s an interesting twist:

    According to Jeremy Hooper at As Good As You, the website for The Hitching Post USED to say…up until about a week ago, per Google cache….”We also perform wedding ceremonies of other faiths as well as civil weddings.” That sentence has since been removed.

    Interesting timing. Should provide some fun moments in court.




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  84. anjin-san says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Pssst. Jesus was not a hater. You don’t seem to have received this important message, so I am sharing it with you.




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  85. Modulo Myself says:

    @trumwill:

    It’s taken us nowhere. Businesses can’t discriminate against interracial couples because the religion of their owners calls them an abomination. This is no different.




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  86. beth says:

    @trumwill: I’m also confused by your religious and/or artistic exclusion. Can a hotel company refuse to rent a room to a mixed race couple or an unmarried couple? It’s not really artistic but the owner of that hotel chain could hold religious views just as strong as an artist. I’m not sure what the service being performed has to do with it.




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  87. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    It doesn’t matter whether god exists, or she doesn’t….organized religion clearly exists…as do it’s followers who will lean on ancient hearsay to convince others that what they believe is the only true fact.




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  88. legion says:

    @Jack: Well, this topic kind of exploded. I’ll just make one underlining of fact you haven’t grasped. If these pastors performed marriage ceremonies for their congregations in a church of their faith, then there would be no way to “force” them to perform ceremonies they considered anathema to their religion. But that’s not what’s happening.

    These people are not acting as members of the clergy in a house of worship. Period. They are employees of a company that performs marriage ceremonies for the public at large. That means they have stepped _out_ of the realm of religious protection and _into_ the realm of commercial operations. They knew they were doing this when they formed an LLC. Your overwrought pleadings of “oppression” are completely garbage.




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  89. Rafer Janders says:

    @trumwill:

    Businesses are made of people.

    Ocean’s dying, plankton’s dying… it’s people. BUSINESS IS MADE OUT OF PEOPLE!!! They’re making our businesses out of people! Next thing they’ll be breeding us like cattle for businesses. You’ve gotta tell them. You’ve gotta tell them! You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You’ve gotta tell them! Businesses is people!!! We’ve gotta stop them somehow!




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  90. Trumwill says:

    Well, obviously the consensus here has decided, and I have a lot going on today, so I will bow out.

    As I said in my first comment, I have long favored gay marriage and anti-discrimination law protecting gays. This actually marks the first case I am aware of where I unambiguously think that the SSM movement has it deeply wrong. It is not a happy milestone.

    In the meantime, I am pretty sure that the law here will ultimately be on my side.




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  91. Rafer Janders says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think that performing a religious act (marrying people) ought to have more protections than dispensing prescriptions.

    Marrying people is not inherently a religious act — in this case, in fact, it’s a civil one. A judge or county clerk or ship’s captain who maries a couple are not performing a religious ceremony, they are simply overseeing a civil ceremony. Same here.




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  92. James Pearce says:

    Eugene Volokh looks at the situation and finds that the Knapps have a strong case

    Yeah, big surprise that one….

    We are rapidly approaching the apogee of credibility on these claims. Either we’re going to be carving out legal exceptions for all kinds of religiously motivated behaviors (including honor killings, plural marriage, even pederasty) or we’re going to have to tell religious people that there are limits to how far their religious consciences can remove them from 21st Century mores.




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  93. Modulo Myself says:

    Put it this way, if you’re Catholic, and work in a crucifix business, and a man with 6-6-6 on his forehead enters and wants to buy a crucifix, you have to sell it to him.




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  94. @HarvardLaw92:
    @Rafer Janders:

    Nothing to do with the conversation, but since two people have mentioned it now, I’d like to point out that US sea captains are not authorized to solemnize marriages, despite the widespread urban myth to the contrary.




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  95. BobN says:

    I think you’re misunderstanding Mr. Knapp when he says he’s fine with other people performing SSMs at “their facilities”. He means “their own facilities”, not his. In fact, in prep for the lawsuit, they’re not turning away all civil ceremonies and all religions except Christian weddings.

    What a huge win for religious freedom when Jews and Muslims and Catholics cannot marry there!!!!




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  96. Gustopher says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Marrying people is not inherently a religious act — in this case, in fact, it’s a civil one. A judge or county clerk or ship’s captain who maries a couple are not performing a religious ceremony, they are simply overseeing a civil ceremony.

    A ship’s captain, judge or county clerk are generally not ordained ministers, and are very clearly not acting as ministers. Marrying someone is a religious act when done by ministers, a non-religious act when performed by civil servants. Unlike running a bar, or picking up dog poo.

    But, basically, this is just stupid. If it is decided in the courts, it opens up the strong possibility for an overly broad ruling expanding Hobby Lobby.

    Just change the law to carve out the narrow exemption and be done with it. Compared to pharmacists having a similar exemption in many states (which pisses me off to no end), and churches getting special tax treatment, this is trivial, not even a step along a slippery slope.




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  97. beth says:

    @James Pearce: Yeah, I hear the slippery slope argument from people all the time but the real slippery slope will be carving out exemptions so religious people can legally discriminate against whoever they don’t like. We had that in this country at one time (the Bible was used to withhold the rights of minorities and women for far too long) and we all know how that turned out.




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  98. Eric Florack says:

    @HarvardLaw92: well, I’m offended by Clavin.
    I demand we outlaw him. (Smirk)

    By the way, didn’t intend the caps, there.




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  99. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I’ll avoid my inner argumentarian (the one yelling “sometimes, not always!!!”) and agree that it’s mostly incorrect folklore.




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  100. Rafer Janders says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Nothing to do with the conversation, but since two people have mentioned it now, I’d like to point out that US sea captains are not authorized to solemnize marriages, despite the widespread urban myth to the contrary.

    Wait, what, then I’m…I’m not married?




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  101. Vast Variety says:

    The Knapps should get an exemption, their business should not. That way they don’t have to violate their religious beliefs. You have all ready pointed out that they have agreed to let same sex couples use the building. Unfortunately, under the new orthodoxy of the Hobby Lobby ruling you can’t separate the people from the business.




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  102. James Pearce says:

    @Trumwill:

    obviously the consensus here has decided

    People have been attempting to convince us for decades that anti-gay discrimination can be justified by religious faith. Over that time, yes, a consensus has been decided.

    Just not the kind of consensus you’ll find over at Ordinary Times.




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  103. C. Clavin says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    Congratulations!!!




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  104. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    Marrying someone is a religious act when done by ministers, a non-religious act when performed by civil servants. Unlike running a bar, or picking up dog poo.

    Um, no. Marrying someone is a religious act when done in the context of holy matrimony. It is a civil act when done in the context of officiating a civil ceremony. Yet again, while both may occur in the same ceremony, this is incidental to what role the minister is fulfilling within the context of civil marriage (which is the state’s business) and holy matrimony (which is the church’s business).

    Marrying someone can be solely a religious act – as in the case of two people who simply ask their priest to give them the sacrament of holy matrimony. It can be solely civil, as in the case of two guys getting married by the mayor. It can be a combination of both, as when a minster marries two people with a marriage license in a religious ceremony, and signs the marriage certificate.

    The minister wears two hats, which are distinct and separate from each other. You are layering a religious connotation onto a civil act simply because they may happen at the same time in the same place. That’s inaccurate. The religious part is a nicety, performed at the behest of and to please the sensibilities of the couple in question. The civil part is a necessity – either one performs it or one is not legally married. The civil part is neither dependent on nor connected to the religious part.




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  105. JKB says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    But according to Idaho law, the authority to solemnize the marriage for civil purposes is attached to the religious office of the minister. Therefore, the only way these individuals can perform even a civil ceremony is through their ordination as ministers of the gospel. Nothing requires that they perform the religious ceremony but they must be ministers to solemnize any marriage.




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  106. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @jvestal:

    Not surprising at all. ADF evidently didn’t vet their trial balloon clients well enough (or they just thought that nobody would notice).

    The more interesting part, assuming this actually gets anywhere near a courtroom, will be discovery. The Knapps brought suit against the city, so if I’m one of the city’s attorneys, I’m going to go have a nice chat with their previous clients, then I’m going to parade in front of the jury a string of them (the more outrageous and “un-Christian” the better) who don’t fit this narrow mold they are now trying to sell as SOP.

    This is what happens when what are probably otherwise nice people let fanatical issue-agenda attorneys talk them into doing something stupid.




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  107. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Marrying someone can be solely a religious act – as in the case of two people who simply ask their priest to give them the sacrament of holy matrimony.

    This happened to my Mom over a decade ago when she “married” her wife in a church in a purely religious ceremony. (It’s true: not all churches make anti-gay bigotry a sacrament.)

    The ironic thing is that while she her religious marriage is in its second decade, she’s only been able to get a civil marriage within the last two weeks.




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  108. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    I’m not sure how many times I have to explain that ordination is a criteria, one of many, established by the state as indicating acceptability for the role of civil officiant.

    It is not a state sanction of the ministerial role. Former judges no longer hold office, but Idaho still allows them to marry people. Furthermore, one need not be a practicing minister to be ordained. Ordination is a status, not a role.

    The state chose some criteria that certainly were intended to limit the pool of officiants to those viewed as being stalwart & trustworthy individuals. Stop trying to conflate that into anything more than it actually is.




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  109. @Rafer Janders:

    Was it a US captain? There are other countries (Bermuda most notably) that have granted their captains thatp ower.




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  110. Tyrell says:

    Next we will see organists, acolytes, and choir directors locked up for refusing to provide music at a gay wedding, the church janitor for refusing to set up and clean up after a wedding, even Sunday School teachers who teach lessons about Biblical teachings concerning homosexuality, even church members for attending those classes.
    See 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV).




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  111. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    The ironic thing is that while she her religious marriage is in its second decade, she’s only been able to get a civil marriage within the last two weeks.

    A marriage in its second decade is a happy thing indeed, even if it has taken the civil side far too long to catch up.

    Have they done a civil marriage yet?




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  112. beth says:

    @Tyrell: Do you see little green men too?




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  113. David M says:

    It’s probably worth noting that the Hitching Post advertised the following until quite recently: a traditional or civil ceremony, as well as ceremonies for other (non-christian) faiths.




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  114. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Wow, what a torrent of anti-religious hate. Again, what’s the opposite of flabbergasted?

    Someone has to point out the obvious paradox being demanded here. The corporation has an obligation to offer to perform the weddings, but the individuals have the right to refuse. The individuals are apparently the only employees/agents of the corporation, so how do you reconcile the corporation’s obligation vs. the individuals’ rights?

    “As the president of this corporation, I order myself to perform this wedding.”

    “As an individual, I refuse that order because it violates my rights of religious expression.”

    The corporation has no right to order its employees to violate their own religious beliefs. Or, if you prefer, the employees cannot be ordered to violate their rights. So the corporation has no way of complying with the law.

    And to reinforce the earlier point: who the hell would WANT to get married in a place so opposed to that marriage? I thought marriage was about love and commitment, not getting all up in the face of those you don’t like to make a political statement.




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  115. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Someone has to point out the obvious paradox being demanded here. The corporation has an obligation to offer to perform the weddings, but the individuals have the right to refuse.

    That was pointed out about 100 comments up.




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  116. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Is there any other context we’d accept that logic?

    Is this a trick question? We accept that logic in every other situation already. We do not allow restaurateurs to only serve men, regardless of the religious beliefs of the owner. We allow private clubs to only serve men; they have different legal rights and obligations.

    You go on to list several hypotheticals of the form “If a really stupid law existed, wouldn’t it be a violation of rights?”. Quite possibly; but those laws don’t exist and aren’t the subject here. We’re talking about the current law in Idaho, and similar laws around the country, that exist because bigots have proven repeatedly that they will discriminate if permitted to do so.

    These laws say nothing about acts of bigotry by private citizens, but prohibit discriminatory policies by public businesses that enjoy the legal benefits of that status. I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me why some (but not all) kinds of discrimination by public businesses should be protected under a religious fig leaf, but trumwill has dropped out of the discussion and he was the only likely candidate.




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  117. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    what a torrent of anti-religious hate

    You got the parentheses wrong there; I think you meant “anti-(religious hate)”.

    My religion doesn’t require hate. Sorry about yours; better luck next time.




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  118. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    Have they done a civil marriage yet?

    Not yet, and I’m not sure it’s much of a priority. They got a Civil Union last year when those became available and prior to that they went through the whole power-of-attorney nonsense that was supposedly “just as good” as a marriage but, you know, wasn’t.

    They will probably formalize it at some point, but if you’ve had to jump through as many hoops as they have, you become less eager to jump through another one.




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  119. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce: It really just seems like another opportunity for a nice reception and a honeymoon. They should get married, and then move to another state so they can have another honeymoon when their marriage becomes legal again…




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  120. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The minister wears two hats, which are distinct and separate from each other. You are layering a religious connotation onto a civil act simply because they may happen at the same time in the same place. That’s inaccurate. The religious part is a nicety, performed at the behest of and to please the sensibilities of the couple in question. The civil part is a necessity – either one performs it or one is not legally married. The civil part is neither dependent on nor connected to the religious part.

    While that is legally correct, it is not religiously correct. It is one of the most sacred vows, blah, blah, blah. I would expect that there are common religions that do not recognize the civil marriage, and which would frown upon performing a purely civil, irreligious marriage.

    And then the RFRA makes an end run around the original legal argument, by now requiring compelling reasons, accommodations, etc.

    If we recognize that people have any rights based on religion, and provide accommodation for that, this is pretty clearly one of the most important. Could we compel someone to provide a civil communion wafer, if such a thing existed?

    As for the ministers’ willingness to perform marriages for people of other faiths — well, mostly they’re just hypocrites, but it also might be considered an effort at proselytizing.




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  121. Gustopher says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Wow, what a torrent of anti-religious hate.

    I believe you are defining “anti-religious hate” as being unwilling to bend backwards infinitely to accommodate religious beliefs. That definition is inaccurate.

    If this was a real church, rather than the equivalent of an IHOP performing weddings, there would be no issue. A church is clearly protected, since they serve a specific faith and aren’t a business open to all comers, but Weddings R Us (or whatever they call themselves) is just an IHOP performing weddings.




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  122. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: HarvardLaw kinda tap-danced around the matter. I spelled it out explicitly.

    So how would you reconcile it? Should the corporation be forced to hire someone who will perform the ceremonies?




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  123. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    It really just seems like another opportunity for a nice reception and a honeymoon.

    Ha! Sure…..until their travel agent refuses to book the cruise or the reception hall sniffs out the lesbianism….

    Then we’re back to bowing down to the religious beliefs of assholes.

    (I kid, of course. There are actually very few of these assholes left.)




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  124. carter says:

    I’ve called that town “Cootie Lane” for over twenty years but I always stopped there for gas and a motel room when needed… not any more. It’s hard to believe we let 1.5 percent of the population run the rest of us around like they were special. Not even a plumber can mate two male fittings to fix your pipes, gimme a break.




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  125. Rafer Janders says:

    @Gustopher:

    While that is legally correct, it is not religiously correct. It is one of the most sacred vows, blah, blah, blah. I would expect that there are common religions that do not recognize the civil marriage, and which would frown upon performing a purely civil, irreligious marriage.

    So again, if they don’t want to perform civil marriages, THEY DON’T HAVE TO. They can restrict themselves to conducting only religious marriages in a church.

    But that’s not what these guys wanted to do. They didn’t set up a church, they set up an LLC. They didn’t offer services only to members of their own congregation, they instead advertised services to the general public.

    If they really thought it was such a sacred vow, blah blah blah, then forming an LLC called “The Hitching Post” and puttin up ads seems a funny way to indicate it….




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  126. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    If the corporation cannot deliver their services in a non-discriminatory manner then they should be shut down…just as a restaurant that refused to serve blacks or women or jews would be.
    There is no legitimate business interest served by denying SSM…it is arbitrary and unlawful discrimination…by so-called Christians. Christ preached love, forgiveness, tolerance and generosity…these folks practice hate.




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  127. C. Clavin says:

    @carter:

    It’s hard to believe we let 1.5 percent of the population run the rest of us around like they were special.

    Christians make up far more than 1.5% of the population.




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  128. Grewgills says:

    Carter, you apparently understand plumbing as well as you understand people.




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  129. DrDaveT says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    This sounds good in theory, but the practical meaning of this is that someone who is not an agent of the state has, under penalty of law, to say some words that he doesn’t want to say.

    What makes you think that The Hitching Post LLC is not an agent of the state? What do you think it means to be “a legal entity”, if not an agent of the state and its laws?

    If Knapp doesn’t want to say those words, s/he can quit and go work elsewhere — just like someone who doesn’t want to wear the Hooters t-shirt can choose not to be a waitress there. Or the Knapps, as controlling partners, could hire someone who doesn’t mind saying those words so that they don’t have to. What they can’t do is continue to operate with impunity an LLC wedding mill that refuses to serve dwarfs, or Italians, or same-sex couples, or what-have-you. The LLC then becomes liable for civil and criminal penalties under Idaho law. I don’t know enough about Idaho corporate law to know how much of that liability would pass through to the partners.




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  130. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    It is one of the most sacred vows

    No, it isn’t. You’re still thinking of the holy matrimony version, the sacrament. That’s not what The Hitchin’ Post LLC provides. It provides the “the State of Idaho now recognizes you as legally entitled to file jointly”, which is anything but sacred. Don and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers, might at the same time provide the “most sacred vow” version — but that’s not the product sold by THP LLC.

    Don and Evelyn could do the sacred vow version (minus the legal status) any time they want, for whomever they want — and could refuse to do it any time they wanted to refuse, for any reason or no reason. That right has not been infringed here.




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  131. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: They should do what is necessary to comply with the law. If that means hiring someone to do same-sex weddings, then they should. If it simply means making the facility available to people who wish to bring their own officiant, then do that. If there is some other option that brings them into compliance, do that. But comply.




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  132. Mikey says:

    @Gustopher:

    I believe you are defining “anti-religious hate” as being unwilling to bend backwards infinitely to accommodate religious beliefs. That definition is inaccurate.

    It is, however, the most widely used.




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  133. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The corporation has no right to order its employees to violate their own religious beliefs.

    Huh? Since when? Hooters is not going to employ a waitress who only goes out in public in a burkah, and they have that right. A clinic has every right to fire a physician or nurse who will not speak with persons of certain castes. KFC does not need to provide you a place to say your prayers toward Graceland every hour on the hour, or allow you the 10 minute hourly breaks that requires. The list goes on — your right to have weird beliefs does not trump the employer’s right to hire people who will actually do the work they’ve been hired to do.

    Of course, you don’t really mean ANY religious beliefs — you mean whatever flavor of Christian beliefs don’t seem weird to you. If wiccans and vodun and sufis and rastafarians had to be catered to as well, you’d back down in a flash.




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  134. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “Next we will see organists, acolytes, and choir directors locked up for refusing to provide music at a gay wedding, the church janitor for refusing to set up and clean up after a wedding, ‘

    Interesting. Out where you live, do janitors generally get to choose which messes they clean up? Do organists get to decide whether or not they feel like playing for a particular ceremony?

    Because in every place I’ve ever been, if an employee thinks he has the right to pick and choose which elements of his job he finds moral enough to perform, he’s generally looking for a new job to put under his moral microscope.




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  135. DrDaveT says:

    @trumwill:

    The case still involves forcing a pastor to perform a religious ceremony in a case where he religiously objects.

    Just to be clear — this is false. This is the basic misunderstanding here.

    The Knapps could perform the civil-marriage-for-fee that is their business without adding any of the religious trappings or text. The marriage would be just as legal in the eyes of the state, and the Knapps would not have to pretend that any religious sacrament had taken place. They apparently refuse to do this because they believe not only that the religious sacrament does not apply to homosexual couples, but because they believe that homosexual couples should not have the benefit of civil union rights. That urge to discriminate may be based on their religious beliefs, but it has nothing to do with religious rites or ceremonies. It puts them in the same situation as a realtor who believes that homosexual couples should not be allowed to purchase homes, or a banker who believes homosexual couples should not be allowed to co-sign for loans.




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  136. @Rafer Janders:

    They didn’t set up a church, they set up an LLC.

    I’m forced to wonder exactly how Refer Janders thinks churches are organized from a legal standpoint.




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  137. John D'Geek says:

    Don’t feel like reading this whole thread, so someone may have quoted this already:

    Churches and religious organizations may be legally organized in a variety of
    ways under state law, such as unincorporated associations, nonprofit corporations,
    corporations sole, and charitable trusts.

    Internal Revenue Service, p. 2

    While a Church is generally* a 501(c)3, it is not required for them to be so. A Church or Religious Organization may be an LLC or “C” Corporation; the Gov’t (IRS) may not restrict the legal form of a “Church” (used for any equivalent religious assembly, i.e. Synagogue or Mosque; see p.1), though they may restrict tax advantages that the “Church” enjoys and has done so.

    When looking at this, one must ignore the corporate form and look at the purpose of the organization. The Hitching Post qualifies as a genuine religious organization (though not for Tax benefits of a “Church”).

    * — There is quite a roar on the internet over churches automatically getting 501(c)3 status — without even having to apply. This roar comes from the religious right, who believe that this is a way for the government to “automatically” silence churches. I don’t care enough about the legal intricacies of this argument to look it up, it’s enough for this post to realize that not all churches are 501(c)3.




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  138. Eric Florack says:

    @C. Clavin: Kinda like leftist dogma, huh?

    what happened to all the defensiveness when the left was trying to enforce its will over religion by demanding pastors submit to government, their sermons? I mean, isn’t the common thread here the left using the power of government to defeat religion? Go ahead, tell me you disapporve of that.

    @legion: so, you think the government is actually bound by the law?




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  139. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    Not to split hairs here, but civil marriage is a legal construct, not a religious one, and the officiant is performing a civil role as an agent of the state, not a religious function.




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  140. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John D’Geek:

    The Hitching Post qualifies as a genuine religious organization

    Apparently you didn’t get to see their webpage before it got scrubbed.




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  141. Tyrell says:

    @wr: Most church organists around here have a “first refusal” clause. The church wedding jobs are theirs unless they don’t want to do them, then the wedding party can bring in their own person, subject, of course, to approval of the church leadership board. Most churches are picky about who plays their organ. We had a custodian one time who said up front that he did not work events that served alcoholic drinks. That was null, since our church and most area churches have strict no alcohol policies at all events.




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  142. Grewgills says:

    I know it’s been mentioned, but it bears repeating, back in May the Hitching Post advertised itself as performing either civil or religious ceremonies and ceremonies of any other faith. From their site in May:

    We strive to make your wedding experience memorable and personal for you. At the Hitching Post, ordained ministers will marry you using traditional or civil ceremony, if you choose. You are also able to choose which themed room you would like to have your ceremony in.

    and

    The Hitchign Post specializes in small, short, intimate, and private weddings for couples who desire a traditional Christian wedding ceremony. We also perform wedding ceremonies of other faiths as well as civil weddings. We believe that every wedding is special and realize how important this day is to those who walk through our doors.

    It is only now that gay marriage has become legal that they are rebranding themselves as a strictly Christian religious operation. The newfound specific religiosity of their business is all about being able to enforce their prejudices. If they hadn’t been a business that catered to any and all legal comers before this law, then they might have a leg to stand on. If you are regularly performing civil ceremonies with no religious element and performing ceremonies or other religions and the only legal marriages you are opposed to performing are same sex marriages, you aren’t being oppressed, you are seeking to oppress others.




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  143. Mikey says:

    @Grewgills:

    We believe that every wedding is special and realize how important this day is to those who walk through our doors.

    Unless they’re icky gay people.




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  144. anjin-san says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I mean, isn’t the common thread here the left using the power of government to defeat religion

    The mental illness thread is two doors over.




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  145. JKB says:

    @HarvardLaw92: officiant is performing a civil role as an agent of the state, not a religious function.

    But as I’ve tried to get you to understand, they can only execute that role as agent of the state via their religious office. If they are not a minister of the gospel, they cannot solemnize marriage (assuming the do not meet one of the other offices or retired status).

    There is no way for them to officiate a marriage without using their religious office which derives from their religious beliefs. It would be different if the state had simply entered ministers of the gospel into some civil office for the purpose of solemnizing marriages.




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  146. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I think you are splitting hairs and generally making a distinction without a difference.

    With the RFRA, and after the Hobby Lobby decision and its various minor sequels, it was found that a closely held employer does not need to pay for insurance that covers birth control that he employer believes is an abortifacient, whether or not it actually is, because of the corporation’s firmly held religious beliefs.

    Apply that logic — “logic” — to this case: does the closely held corporation believe that performing a civil marriage is morally equivalent to performing a religious marriage? I think it would be decided that way.

    And I think the question of civil marriage being morally equivalent to religious marriage is more plausible than whether things that are clearly factually untrue because of biochemistry are true if you believe it strongly enough.

    It comes down to this: does a business that for some ungodly reason is doing religious services (or what they believe to be religious services) for profit have the requirement to do a fake version of that service for people they would object to performing a real version of that service for? The hypothetical civil communion wafer.

    If Jesus would just show up, overturn the tables and whip these people, like he did to the money lenders in the temple, this problem really would be solved much more cleanly.




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  147. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Wow, what a torrent of anti-religious hate.

    I think you are confusing “hating to see the message of Jesus twisted into something vile” with “anti-religious hate.”




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  148. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    Up until a few weeks ago, they (judging from their website) would apparently marry pretty much anybody in whatever sort of ceremony the couple wished. At the intersection of Jesus and Benjamins street, the Knapps took the greenway.

    Until a few weeks ago, when the ADF apparently talked them into making this colossal miscalculation. At that point, they strangely started to characterize themselves as some sort of for-profit pseudo church.

    That’s where they fall flat, and that is where your argument goes off the rails. I get that you want anything even tangentially related to religion to be protected under something like an RFRA, but this is a stretch. The ADF has a history of going out on these limbs, or more aptly put convincing idiot clients to go out on these limbs, chasing trial balloon agenda cases that make the terms “long-shot” and “snowball in Hell” seem pale by comparison.

    ADF is pushing an agenda, and they picked trial balloon clients to help them do it. Unfortunately for them, they appear to be, putting it charitably, liars …




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  149. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    Sure there is. There is nothing, at all, which requires a minister to invoke G-d in a wedding ceremony. For that matter, there is really nothing that requires there to even BE a ceremony. Sit down in an office, repeat a few phrases (none of which necessarily reference religion), sign a few documents, and *pouf* you are married.

    It’s religious IF the couple wants for it to be, but there is nothing that says it HAS to be.




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  150. Mikey says:

    @HarvardLaw92: My wife and I are atheists whose wedding was done by a female rabbi with no mention of God whatsoever.

    We did have Shakespeare, though.




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  151. anjin-san says:

    @JKB:

    But as I’ve tried to get you to understand, they can only execute that role as agent of the state via their religious office

    Hmmm. A few days ago you were an expert on ebola and infectious disease protocols. What will you be an expert on next week?




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  152. beth says:

    @Mikey: At the time of our wedding my husband and I were attending different churches. My Catholic church wouldn’t marry us without my divorced husband paying to have his non-Catholic marriage annulled and his Presbyterian church wouldn’t do the ceremony until after I joined the church and was a member in good standing for at least 6 months. (We got married by a retired Jewish judge who never mentioned God . Turned us both off religion for quite a while.) Neither of us would have had any legal recourse to force the churches to marry us.




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  153. Tyrell says:

    @beth: Good points, but churches have a process and procedure concerning who they will marry. Most have a written set of guidelines and requirements that must be met. Usually the couple must be of the same faith, but rarely require the same denomination. Candidates usually must be active members of a church and complete a class on Christian marriage, various duties and reponsibilities, of the husband and wife, and how they are to treat each other. Then the leadership board can approve or disapprove the marriage request, taking into account the pastor’s opinion. The church views marriage as a lifetime commitment to each other.
    Few churches will marry a believer with an unbeliever, based on the Holy Bible’s prohibiting Christians being joined with non believers. Church pastors and leaders increasingly are refraining from marrying people, usually inactive members or new visitors, who seem to be just wanting a weddiing where the church is a set or prop. The local society around here frowns on any marriage not performed in a church: it just isn’t done. The issue here is this wedding “store”. Most, if not all, pastors and church leaders would disapprove and disavow that type of nonsense. Again, they are providing a “church and pastor” much like a photography studio background.




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  154. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    No…he common thread is not using religion as an excuse for homophobia and discrimination.




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  155. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “Most, if not all, pastors and church leaders would disapprove and disavow that type of nonsense.”

    Perhaps some of you “locals” — by which I presume you mean people living in a fantasy construct of 1955 — should tell these pastors and church leaders to kiss their ass.

    Next time Pleasantville is on, you should really watch until the end.




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  156. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Religious freedom, as defined by modern liberals: you’re allowed to believe whatever you like. But you can only exercise your religion in ways in which they approve.

    One has to wonder what would happen if the officiant were to perform the ceremony while quoting extensively from the Biblical strictures against homosexuality.

    “By the power vested in me by the state of Idaho, I now pronounce you two filthy Godless sodomites legally wed and condemned to the flames of Hell for all eternity. Now go forth and continue to violate the laws of God and Nature a a legally recognized unit.”

    It’d be rude as hell, but so would be demanding someone who is religiously opposed to gay marriage to perform one. And as long as they perform the ceremony to the legal standard, how they do it and what they say in the process would be protected by their 1st Amendment rights, correct?

    What a wonderful way to celebrate one’s marriage — by coercing someone who doesn’t approve of your wedding to officiate or risk going to jail. Why wouldn’t they be at least a little tempted to piss back on you and “speak truth to power?” They’d be speaking the truth as they know it, to the people who hold such power over them.




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  157. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jack: No, the answer is to hire some person who is legally empowered to solemnize marriage licences. It can be a justice of the peace, a person with a degree from a diploma mill, it can be anyone. The state can even permit notary publics to do this if it wants to.

    Why gays cannot be married in civil ceremonies by a judge in the courthouse may be a question, I don’t know. In this case, an accommodation has been offered (and I assume is being worked out as we speak) so your point is nonexistent at this time. Come back when they have been jailed by a system that said “shove your accommodation, you’ll do what we say!”




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  158. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You do grasp that :

    1) this is pretty much a hypothetical. The Knapps are suing the city over something that they (and the ADF) think will happen, but hasn’t actually happened.

    2) The Knapps brought the suit. They are suing the city over a non-existent harm. Nobody is suing them, and to my knowledge nobody has sought out their services and been denied them.

    What this really boils down to? As I said above, two probably otherwise nice people [who would probably find a way to accommodate whatever gay folk actually might, at some hypothetical point in the future, ask to use / rent their facility] being used by the ADF to push its agenda. I highly doubt that this ever sees the inside of a courtroom, but if it does, even if they win it’ll be a Pyrrhic victory.

    And those fanatics at the ADF will be nowhere in sight as these folks they have used pick up the pieces …




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  159. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mikey:

    Well done. We had two Jewish mothers arguing over whose preferred rabbi (neither of whom either of us cared much for, to be honest) would perform the wedding, so we ended up shutting both of them down and getting married in chambers by the 2nd Circuit judge that I clerked for.

    I think they may have forgiven us by this point.




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  160. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @HarvardLaw92: There’s nothing hypothetical about this law. And as noted, there were a LOT of people who said that there would come a day when members of the clergy would be compelled to perform gay marriages, regardless of their beliefs, and that was scoffed at. Well, here’s a law that says that is exactly will happen, under penalty of prison.

    But yeah, it’s hypothetical at this point. So’s my suggested response. Do you think that such a response would be actionable, or protected?




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  161. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    There is a potential collision point related to this question that seems to have been finessed by. It is possible that they can be running a business to the public and ministry at the same time if they believe that the service they are offering provides them with an opportunity to evangelize the clientelle. If they actually believe this, I suspect that they are kidding themselves, but it is open for consideration.

    On the other hand, who could need evangelizing more than homosexual couples seeking to be married? It makes an interesting thought problem.




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  162. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Religious freedom, as defined by modern liberals: you’re allowed to believe whatever you like. But you can only exercise your religion in ways in which they approve.

    And this is different from religious freedom as defined by…say…Westboro Baptist Church…inwhat way?

    Trust me, Jenos, I grew up here, what you have suggested is the principle of the Religious Right, not the Religious Left.




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  163. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    We still have laws on the books criminalizing sodomy. The existence of a statute, in and of itself, doesn’t mean that it is unavoidably viable.

    The whole “members of the clergy” argument has been hashed to death above already, much of that by my hand, and I’m not going to rehash it here. Suffice to say that this is not a church, and these people’s business practices (up until the recent & convenient shift) firmly establish their company as a secular enterprise offering a secular product. Moreover, they have an established history of being very amenable to setting their beliefs aside through their (well-advertised) willingness to officiate over a wide variety of different marriage ceremony scenarios. Short version: they do not get to flip now and say “well, we’ve been a sort-of church all along.” It doesn’t fly.

    As to prison, more hyperventilating. Couer d’Alene’s ordinance establishes a misdemeanor offense here, for which the penalty would almost certainly be a fine. Those running around with their hair on fire need to get back to me when someone is actually sitting in a cell. I won’t be holding my breath.

    As to your hypothetical, I’m loathe to even dignify it with a response, but I’d view it as breach of contract. If the officiant contracted to provide services, then acted in such a manner as to clearly violate the terms of that agreement, hell yes it would be actionable, and he/she would lose. The 1st Amendment is a bar on prior restraint – it doesn’t protect you from the consequences of opening your mouth and being an asshole.

    Even if you assert that G-d told you to be an asshole …




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  164. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @anjin-san:

    LOL, leave him alone. Few things are more amusing than an armchair lecturing an attorney about the law.

    I’m honestly amazed, and a little disappointed, that one of them hasn’t trotted out the 10th Amendment (which none of them actually understand) yet. That fight is always fun.




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  165. T says:

    @beth:

    My Catholic church wouldn’t marry us without my divorced husband paying

    well at least you know what is important to them

    I attended catholic school from 5th through 12th grade. Now I always tell people the one thing I learned from catholic school is that I don’t want to be catholic. Talk about being driven away from religion.




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  166. Grewgills says:

    @JKB:

    There is no way for them to officiate a marriage without using their religious office which derives from their religious beliefs.

    Then I guess all of the civil ceremonies they performed and of the ceremonies they performed for non christians don’t count. Maybe you can help contact all of them to let them know that since the Knapps weren’t acting as christian ministers when they married them, that they aren’t actually married.




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  167. anjin-san says:

    It appears that the Knapps are not being entirely honest about the nature of their business. Not impressive behavior for people who seem to want special rights because they are ministers…




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  168. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: So, you’re here, why, again?




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  169. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @HarvardLaw92: As to your hypothetical, I’m loathe to even dignify it with a response, but I’d view it as breach of contract. If the officiant contracted to provide services, then acted in such a manner as to clearly violate the terms of that agreement, hell yes it would be actionable, and he/she would lose.

    You’d “view it as a breach of contract?” You’re the one who claims to have a law degree (I certainly don’t have one), but I did watch “The Paper Chase” and I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and I see a problem with that.

    The officiant has been contracted to perform a marriage. At no point did they agree to be nice and polite and accepting, merely to perform the ceremoney. They, in all likelihood, tried to defer from doing so, but the engaged couple insisted. So he performed the ceremony, saying the key words and signing the proper paperwork. So the officiant lived up to his part of the deal (which they didn’t want to do anyway). Where in the agreement is the officiant obligated to be nice, and where in the agreement is the officiant obligated to say things that violate their religious beliefs?

    This is what happens when you take what should be a happy day and turning into an in-your-face political statement.

    And that’s what’s at the core here — not getting married, but finding someone who doesn’t approve and shoving it down their throats. If someone wants to get married, they can easily find someone who would be willing to do so. Why seek out someone who is unwilling, and forcing them to do so?

    The only answer is this: because you can. Because just getting married isn’t enough. It’s gotta be a statement.




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  170. beth says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The only answer is this: because you can. Because just getting married isn’t enough. It’s gotta be a statement.

    Why did those black people have to have lunch at the Woolworth’s counter? There were plenty of other places for them to eat. Because having lunch wasn’t enough – it’s about making a statement.




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  171. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Religious freedom, as defined by modern liberals: you’re allowed to believe whatever you like. But you can only exercise your religion in ways in which they approve.

    Oh, bullshit. Here’s what’s really going on: a BUSINESS will be required to conduct BUSINESS in accordance with the laws that apply to a BUSINESS.

    There’s no get-out-of-obeying-the-law card in religion. At least there shouldn’t be. But that’s what the pro-discrimination crowd wants.




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  172. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    If someone wants to get married, they can easily find someone who would be willing to do so. Why seek out someone who is unwilling, and forcing them to do so?

    Can you please stop with this nonsense?

    You really think the gay people of Idaho are interesting in forcing Hitching Post to perform their weddings? It’s about religious people using their faith to justify anti-gay discrimination, and the rest of the world not really buying it.

    Glad you do, though.




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  173. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @James Pearce: You really think the gay people of Idaho are interesting in forcing Hitching Post to perform their weddings?

    Are you really so stupid that you don’t understand that that is the whole point of this law?

    If you perform weddings, you can’t refuse to gay marriages. The whole point is coercion.

    Go to someone who doesn’t approve of gay marriage and demand they marry you to your same-sex partner, then be surprised when they fulfill the letter of the law but still show their displeasure.

    Please, show how this is some kind of “breach of contract.”




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  174. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The whole point is coercion.

    Odd that the protection of equal rights are called coercion by some.
    Or not.




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  175. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Odd that the protection of equal rights are called coercion by some.

    Cliffy, why do you keep insisting on showing how stupid you are?

    “You will do this or you will be arrested and sent to jail.” The whole point of law is coercion. It’s to make people act in ways that they might not want to do.




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  176. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    If you perform weddings, you can’t refuse to gay marriages. The whole point is coercion.

    You are doing exactly what I predicted: dropping the very important distinction between a church and a business.

    There are many thousands of churches in Idaho, the ministers of which are entirely free to conduct weddings in harmony with whatever limitations and allowances they feel their particular scripture dictates.

    The Hitching Post is a business and as a business it must adhere to the laws governing the conduct of business. One of those laws states a business cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation.

    The pro-discrimination crowd wants a religion-based exemption to the law. These are the same people who whine about how gays want “special treatment.” The reek of hypocrisy is cloying.




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  177. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: Gosh and golly, if only I’d addressed that point earlier.

    Oh, yeah, I did.

    The corporation has an obligation to offer to perform the weddings, but the individuals have the right to refuse. The individuals are apparently the only employees/agents of the corporation, so how do you reconcile the corporation’s obligation vs. the individuals’ rights?

    Of all those thousands of other churches and whatnot, why would this one place saying “no, thank you” such a huge deal? Why not simply spread the word that they don’t want to do gay marriages get around, and those who disagree with them vote with their feet and wallets?

    Nope. Can’t have that. Gotta sic the law on them. Because The Cause is so damned important, and The Cause is so damned right, that this elderly couple can’t be allowed to quietly dissent. They’re willing to say that gays can get married. They’ll even say that gays can get married in their place. They just say we don’t want to perform the actual wedding.

    Nope. Either they marry everyone who asks, or they marry no one.




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  178. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The whole point of law is coercion. It’s to make people act in ways that they might not want to do.

    Yes…we all understand that you don’t want gays to have equal rights. We all also understand that law protects equal rights. You think that being required to respect the rights of people you don’t like is oppressing…and therefore requires coercion. This is typical of racists and homophobes, like you, who believe that they are the real victims.
    However what your prejudices blind you to is that the point of the law is the freedom of all…and not the coercion of you and your bigotry.




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  179. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Go to someone who doesn’t approve of gay marriage and demand they marry you to your same-sex partner

    Um, excuse me. They went to a business that performs marriages and “demanded” to be treated like any other customer.

    I’m sorry the owners of the Hitching Post feel they must be coerced into running their business in accordance with the law, but that’s where my sympathy ends.




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  180. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I said the same when you asked me before “what should they do:”

    If that means hiring someone to do same-sex weddings, then they should. If it simply means making the facility available to people who wish to bring their own officiant, then do that. If there is some other option that brings them into compliance, do that.

    But it still boils down to The Hitching Post being a business, and businesses are required to comply with the law.




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  181. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Of all those thousands of other churches and whatnot, why would this one place saying “no, thank you” such a huge deal?

    Because this one, unlike those thousands of other churches and whatnot, is not a church but is instead a secular, for-profit business licensed by the State of Idaho as a business and required by equal access laws to offer its services to the general public.




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  182. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The officiant has been contracted to perform a marriage. At no point did they agree to be nice and polite and accepting, merely to perform the ceremoney.

    They don’t have to agree. It’s an implied contractual term, the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, understood by all parties to be included in the contract at so basic a level that it does not need to be spelled out, and the violation of which can result in a breach of contract suit.

    As said above, yes, it’s hilarious when an armchair lectures an attorney about the law….




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  183. humanoid.panda says:

    Nope. Can’t have that. Gotta sic the law on them. Because The Cause is so damned important, and The Cause is so damned right, that this elderly couple can’t be allowed to quietly dissent. They’re willing to say that gays can get married. They’ll even say that gays can get married in their place. They just say we don’t want to perform the actual wedding.

    This elderly couple was not actually to asked to do anything by anyone, and it is my bet that if they actually do propose for anyone to use their space (and as a side note, up the thread, you claimed that accomodation was an unfair burden on their LLC) then if someone sues them they won’t have much of a case, Again, for the millionth time: they and the lawyers that are using as their batttering ram, have initiated the damn suit.




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  184. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Yes…we all understand that you don’t want gays to have equal rights. We all also understand that law protects equal rights. You think that being required to respect the rights of people you don’t like is oppressing…and therefore requires coercion. This is typical of racists and homophobes, like you, who believe that they are the real victims.

    Cliffy, it’s almost tragic how you let your personal prejudices control what you call thinking. I shouldn’t have to explain such fundamentals to you, but since your last round of personal insults in place of reasoned discussion scored four uptwinkles indicates that some people actually agree with you.

    The entire purpose of law — ANY law — is to control behavior. It is to coerce people into acting in certain ways, under the threat of punishment. That you LIKE this law and think that it punishes people who need punishing doesn’t change that in the slightest.

    At no point have I ever expressed opposition to gay marriage. I have always argued about the particulars of how it comes about, and in a recent thread I even agreed that there weren’t any good arguments against gay marriage per se.

    But because I don’t agree with you on the “at any cost, in any way” strategy, you gotta lie and misrepresent and invent things. Because you can’t win unless you build a straw man to rail against first.




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  185. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @humanoid.panda: The law is on the books, and it is punishable by jail time, as our host noted. So if a gay couple decides to test the law and goes to the Hitching Post to get married, what are the couple’s choices?

    1) Perform the marriage in violation of their own personal religious beliefs.

    2) Hire someone to perform the marriage.

    3) Close up shop entirely.

    With that law on the books, they have no choice but to consider that it might be applied against them at some point in the future. I see only three options, and in this thread I don’t see any other alternatives. Do you see one that hasn’t been mentioned thus far?




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  186. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: They don’t have to agree. It’s an implied contractual term, the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, understood by all parties to be included in the contract at so basic a level that it does not need to be spelled out, and the violation of which can result in a breach of contract suit.

    Like I said, I’m no lawyer, but I did watch the Paper Chase. And I recall there being a lecture about the elements of a contract. Let me go digging…

    Here’s something that seems fairly authoritative. There are four elements of a contract: offer, consideration, acceptance, mutuality.

    The “offer” part is covered by the business being open to perform marriages to the general public. What constitutes a legal marriage has changed since they opened, and they are not in full agreement with that change. So it can be argued that if they stay open after the change in the law, they have accepted the redefinition of marriage.

    The “consideration” is that they charge for their services.

    The “acceptance” is when a couple approaches them and pays for their services.

    The “mutuality” is that both parties agree that at the conclusion of the ceremony, the couple will be legally wed.

    As long as the officiants make it clear from the outset that, for religious reasons, they object to performing the wedding and are doing so purely to remain in compliance with the law, and will not forfeit their rights to express their beliefs but will perform the legally required minimums to perform the marriage, where is the problem?

    Oh, you don’t like it. You don’t want them to say things you don’t like. (Personally, I don’t like them, either, but we don’t always have to like the people whose rights need defending.) Well, tough. You don’t want them to say such things while performing your wedding? Don’t have them perform your wedding.

    Here, I’ll spare you the repetition: I’m no lawyer. Never set foot in a legal classroom. But I don’t see how my hypothetical would in any way breach any kind of contract.




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  187. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    1) Perform the marriage in violation of their own personal religious beliefs.

    Corporations cannot have religious beliefs.
    That’s the fatal flaw of the Hobby Lobby ruling; a flaw which RGB clearly enunciated in her dissent.
    If they want to have religious beliefs they should be running a church…not an LLC.




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  188. beth says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: But that’s not what you implied. You laid out a scenario where the pastors said derogatory things about gay marriage during the ceremony without telling the participants in advance what they were planning to do. If you meant that the wording was agreed upon in advance, you certainly didn’t express it in your post. As usual, you are changing the terms when you get questioned.




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  189. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I see only three options, and in this thread I don’t see any other alternatives. Do you see one that hasn’t been mentioned thus far?

    Here’s #4: Get over it.

    I swear, this country needs to reacquaint itself with the virtues of dispassionate professionalism.




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  190. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    but finding someone who doesn’t approve and shoving it down their throats

    Once upon a time in the south, the majority did not approve of ni**ers eating at the same restaurants as white folks. Hence The Greensboro Four. Their actions are wildly regarded as a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. So yes, the bigots had to have equal protection shoved down their throats.

    Fascinating how conservatives are obsessed with the Constitution, just not equal protection for people they don’t approve of.




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  191. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @beth: But that’s not what you implied. You laid out a scenario where the pastors said derogatory things about gay marriage during the ceremony without telling the participants in advance what they were planning to do. If you meant that the wording was agreed upon in advance, you certainly didn’t express it in your post. As usual, you are changing the terms when you get questioned.

    My first scenario was based on a few assumptions. One of them was that any gay couple seeking out this couple to marry them would be at least passing familiar with their beliefs, especially given the attention this has drawn. So I clarified it by spelling it out.

    We seem to be having two different types of conversations. I’m trying to define the situation and continue the discussion, you seem to be wanting to play some kind of “gotcha” game.

    So we have me laying out a scenario, you making a judgment based on a matter I didn’t address and you assuming how that matter would play out, and me refining it to take your objection into account. You wanna continue this discussion, or try and claim that you won it on a technicality?




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  192. anjin-san says:

    @James Pearce:

    I swear, this country needs to reacquaint itself with the virtues of dispassionate professionalism.

    Yes. I managed to serve meat, poultry, and seafood in restaurants for years in spite of being a vegetarian Buddhist. Drilling down a bit, I described the dishes, gave people advice about what I thought they would enjoy most, recommended wine pairings, and even managed to say “enjoy your meal” and mean it.

    Personally, I find eating meat, poultry, and seafood to be revolting. But that’s just me, and I respect the right of others to make their own choices. If I could not give proper service to every single person who came through the door, I had no business being in that job.




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  193. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Once upon a time in the south, the majority did not approve of ni**ers eating at the same restaurants as white folks. Hence The Greensboro Four. Their actions are wildly regarded as a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. So yes, the bigots had to have equal protection shoved down their throats.

    That’s the kind of honesty I quite frankly don’t expect from you, so thank you. For you, this is about finding “bigots” and “shoving” your beliefs “down their throats.” They can’t make reasonable accomodations (like, say, opening the venue to couples that provide their own officiant), this is JUST LIKE RACIAL DISCRIMINATION (a proposition ludicrous on its face, and one that quite a few veterans of the civil rights movement have rejected) and MUST BE STOMPED OUT.

    Winning isn’t enough. The other side must be crushed and ground into the dust, their defeat rubbed in their faces and shoved down their throats.

    Well, why not? That worked so wonderfully in the antebellum South and in post-Great War Germany, so let’s try it again!




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  194. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’m trying to define the situation and continue the discussion, you seem to be wanting to play some kind of “gotcha” game.

    My gosh, that must be awful for you. So sinned against, yet never sinning!




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  195. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: You mean you did what your employer did what they told you to do? Amazing.

    Now open your own restaurant that reflects your own beliefs, and wait for the first customer who orders a steak. You refuse, you’re imposing your religious beliefs on your customers and denying their rights to eat meat. You’re open to the public, so cater to them.

    Or open a Halal restaurant and refuse to serve someone spare ribs. Same thing.




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  196. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: It’s usually me against several others, at the same time, around here. I don’t recall ever claiming to be perfect. But I don’t recall ever seeing anywhere that I had to be perfect to express opinions.




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  197. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    My first scenario was based on a few assumptions. One of them was that any gay couple seeking out this couple to marry them would be at least passing familiar with their beliefs, especially given the attention this has drawn. So I clarified it by spelling it out…..So we have me laying out a scenario, you making a judgment based on a matter I didn’t address and you assuming how that matter would play out, and me refining it to take your objection into account. You wanna continue this discussion, or try and claim that you won it on a technicality?

    Sort of like assuming that anyone who agrees to perform a wedding ceremony agrees to perform it in a friendly and courteous manner, and thus that scenario does not have to be addressed in advance because it is so basic to the service performed that everyone just assumes that’s how the matter would play out, and that, barring an explicit agreement to the contrary beforehand, failure to so perform would constitute a breach of contract? That kind of assumption?




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  198. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    If you aren’t serving meat to all of your customers then there isn’t a problem.
    It’s when you decide you aren’t going to sell meat to your gay customers…everyone else can have all the meat they want…that a problem begins.




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  199. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Oh boo-hoo! You do, indeed, have my pity. Poor poor you.




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  200. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    For you, this is about finding “bigots” and “shoving” your beliefs “down their throats.”

    Actually, it’s not. But I know trying to have a constructive discussion with you is rather pointless. I’m simply pointing out that I don’t expect Americans don’t have to wait to wait for permission to exercise their right to equal protection from people who hate them. The equal protection is a birthright that flows from the Constitution, not a privilege.

    I’ve never had to fight for my rights. I’m a tall, distinguished looking white guy who grew up around money. Doors fly open for people like me.

    The difference between me & you is I would like everyone to have a shot at going through some of those doors instead of having them slammed their faces. And if people who are being discriminated against say “I have had enough of this shit” my message to them is that I am behind them, not “keep waiting till the guy who hates you says it is ok.”




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  201. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Now open your own restaurant that reflects your own beliefs, and wait for the first customer who orders a steak. You refuse, you’re imposing your religious beliefs on your customers and denying their rights to eat meat. You’re open to the public, so cater to them.

    No, it’s more like opening a steakhouse, advertising yourself as a steakhouse that will also gladly serve salads and non-steak dishes to anyone that would like to order them, serving fish, chicken and salads for years on end, and then one day having a gay couple come in, ask for chicken, and telling them sorry, we don’t serve chicken to your kind, it’s steak only. And when they point out that up until that moment you willingly and gladly served chicken to all paying customers, claiming that suddenly it violates your conscience….




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  202. beth says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Sorry but you do that all the time. Your argument is refuted and you claim “that’s not what I said!”. We all know it.
    Anyway as Rafer has pointed out a marriage ceremony almost never includes demeaning and insulting both the participants and the marriage itself. Whose scenario would be more logical to assume?




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  203. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: Sort of like assuming that anyone who agrees to perform a wedding ceremony agrees to perform it in a friendly and courteous manner, and thus that scenario does not have to be addressed in advance because it is so basic to the service performed that everyone just assumes that’s how the matter would play out, and that, barring an explicit agreement to the contrary beforehand, failure to so perform would constitute a breach of contract? That kind of assumption?

    Yeah, that kind of assumption. You do your Due Diligence and know that these would-be officiants have repeatedly declared their disapproval of gay marriage, and you seek them out anyway to perform your same-sex marriage. They inform you that they will express their disapproval during the service, but will perform the bare minimum to qualify as a legal marriage because they are obligated to do so by law.

    Would that be acceptable under the law, or would that violate some nebulous contractual obligation a layman like me wouldn’t know about?




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  204. beth says:

    @Rafer Janders: Let’s make it really easy. I can’t walk into McDonalds and demand they serve me a pizza but a gay person, a black person and myself should all be able to walk in and equally order a Big Mac and not be denied service.




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  205. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @beth: Sorry but you do that all the time. Your argument is refuted and you claim “that’s not what I said!”. We all know it.

    In this case, it isn’t what I said. I’m looking at the bare minimums to fulfill the legal requirement. Unwritten assumptions are just that — unwritten. Just how should a judge rule on a breach-of-contract suit based on “he did exactly what was required, but was mean about it?”

    In the end, the couple is married. The officiant did what they were contracted to.

    But OK, we’ll skip the inflammatory language. How about “give me the form.” (Sign, stamp.) “You’re married, now get out. I have a heterosexual Christian couple due here in a couple of minutes, and they’re actually interested in hearing how I share their beliefs and celebrate their union.” That simple enough?




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  206. anjin-san says:

    I have a heterosexual Christian couple due here in a couple of minutes, and they’re actually interested in hearing how I share their beliefs and celebrate their union.”

    I’ve been looking for where Jesus said to despise and oppress people who are different from oneself. I’ve never been able to find it.




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  207. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Would that be acceptable under the law, or would that violate some nebulous contractual obligation a layman like me wouldn’t know about?

    If they inform you in advance, and you nevertheless willingly agree to engage them to perform the service, both of you knowing full well that’s how it will turn out, then sure, no problem.

    But, as we all know, that’s not what the original scenario was.




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  208. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Winning isn’t enough. The other side must be crushed and ground into the dust, their defeat rubbed in their faces and shoved down their throats.

    Nice to know there’s no difference between officiating a gay wedding and getting “crushed and ground into the dust.”

    Have you asked yourself why this country has millions of religious business owners, but there’s only a handful of them freaking out over the gay stuff? If you spend even a minute pondering that question, it’s a bit hard to pretend these Evangelical activists are being the reasonable ones.




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  209. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: But, as we all know, that’s not what the original scenario was.

    The original scenario was, as I said, based on the officiant performing the bare minimum legal requirement and not suppressing their own beliefs in the process. When it turned out that others had assumptions on the matter I hadn’t taken into account, I took them into account.

    But thank you for your agreement that it would meet the letter of the law.




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  210. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Just how should a judge rule on a breach-of-contract suit based on “he did exactly what was required, but was mean about it?”

    Usually for the plaintiff, if the meanness violated the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, dependent on the services being performed. Some services – as for example weddings — have an implied contractual “no meanness” covenant built in.

    You hired a mean plumber? Eh, you probably won’t get damages.

    You hired a mean wedding officiant who, against your wishes, did not happily and cheerfully perform the wedding ceremony? You clearly win when you bring suit against him or her.




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  211. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Winning isn’t enough. The other side must be crushed and ground into the dust, their defeat rubbed in their faces and shoved down their throats.

    More victimhood.
    Marriage Equality is the law of the land in their state. If they run a business they must obey the law (which likely has exceptions for churches) The Knapps are the ones raising this stink…no one else. If they don’t want to follow the law they are free to close their business and open a church.
    What you claim is happening is not actually happening.
    You just enjoy playing the victim…while in fact you are victimizing (or trying to victimize) someone else. It’s pretty typical Republican upside-down-world stuff. I think that guy Frank Lutz really codified it. You’re just a parrot.




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  212. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: I’ve been looking for where Jesus said to despise and oppress people who are different from oneself. I’ve never been able to find it.

    Here’s a principle that’s apparently completely foreign to you: “love the sinner, hate the sin.” That obligates you to denounce the sinful behavior, not sanction it. And embracing a sinner is pretty damned difficult when the sinner is insisting that their sin isn’t sinful, and you’re some kind of nut for thinking it sinful.

    Jesus actually told his followers to confront the sinners with their sin, and counsel them on repenting. Warning them of their impending eternal damnation is pretty Christian…




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  213. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The original scenario was, as I said, based on the officiant performing the bare minimum legal requirement and not suppressing their own beliefs in the process.

    No, the original scenario was, as you wrote above:

    One has to wonder what would happen if the officiant were to perform the ceremony while quoting extensively from the Biblical strictures against homosexuality. “By the power vested in me by the state of Idaho, I now pronounce you two filthy Godless sodomites legally wed and condemned to the flames of Hell for all eternity. Now go forth and continue to violate the laws of God and Nature a a legally recognized unit.” It’d be rude as hell,…

    But who are we going to believe? What you wrote in plain text above, readable to all, about the ceremony being “rude as hell” or what you now claim to have written about it being merely the “bare minimum legal requirement”….?




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  214. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: What you claim is happening is not actually happening.

    But it’s the law, you mendacious imbecile. It’s not happening yet, but it is entirely predictable that it will happen.




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  215. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Winning isn’t enough. The other side must be crushed and ground into the dust, their defeat rubbed in their faces and shoved down their throats.

    http://youtu.be/Oo9buo9Mtos?t=14s




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  216. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: What you wrote in plain text above, readable to all, about the ceremony being “rude as hell” or what you now claim to have written about it being merely the “bare minimum legal requirement”….?

    It’s both. There’s nothing contradictory about “rude as hell” and “bare legal minimum.” Being rude isn’t illegal, or the cops would have pretty much every commenter on this thread under arrest.




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  217. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Galatians 6:1-3

    What are conservatives calling gays this week? Oh yes – “dangerous gremlins”

    Here’s my scripture for the day.

    Judge not, that ye be not judged.




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  218. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Jesus actually told his followers to confront the sinners with their sin, and counsel them on repenting.

    Provide a link proving that Jesus said homosexuality is a sin.




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  219. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Here’s a principle that’s apparently completely foreign to you: “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

    I am familiar with this concept. My own belief system defines hate as one of “The Three Poisons.” My personal feeling is that combination of hate and self-righteousness are recipe for, at very best, spiritual confusion.




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  220. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Oh…so it’s your prediction???
    Well that’s different. Not.




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  221. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    That obligates you to denounce the sinful behavior, not sanction it.

    Sorry, Jenos, but the anti-gay stuff coming from Evangelicals is no different than speaking in tongues, or salvation by faith versus works.

    Not every Christian agrees that being gay is “sinful behavior,” and there are some who think such “sinful behavior” can be redeemed by faith or deed, or just plain forgiven through Christ’s eternal love.

    What you’re trying to do is take one Christian sect’s beliefs and trying to apply it to the entirety of Christianity. Let’s be clear about this: Not every Christian believes you should handle snakes, or speak in tongues, or drink wine during the Eucharist, and not every Christian believes that gay people are sinful and that it’s your Christian duty to refuse to do business with them.




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  222. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    this is JUST LIKE RACIAL DISCRIMINATION (a proposition ludicrous on its face, and one that quite a few veterans of the civil rights movement have rejected)

    How exactly is it different? If this couple, who offered and regularly performed secular civil ceremonies and ceremonies of other religions previously, upon passage of anti-discrimination laws refused to marry interracial couples for religious reasons, would you support them? Would you see a problem with the law forcing this business to marry interracial couples? What if all of the businesses in town that perform marriages are staffed by bigots? Should the couple just get over it and go to another town that isn’t so ignorant and/or hate filled?




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  223. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    It’s both. There’s nothing contradictory about “rude as hell” and “bare legal minimum.”

    Sure there is, when in the context of a wedding ceremony or similar personal services. Pleasantry is an implied and understood part of the services being contracted for.

    Being rude isn’t illegal,

    Who said anything about “illegal”? We’re discussing contractual relations subject to breach of contract suits as remedy, not criminal law violatons which place the violater subject to arrest. Try to stay focused.




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  224. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Jesus actually told his followers to confront the sinners with their sin, and counsel them on repenting. Warning them of their impending eternal damnation is pretty Christian…

    Which is why we regularly confront you with your pathological lying…and ask you to stop.
    Unfortunately you seem intent on eternal damnation.




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  225. anjin-san says:

    @James Pearce:

    Not every Christian agrees that being gay is “sinful behavior,”

    I’m thinking that my wife, who is a devout Catholic, has spent more time in church than Jenos by orders of magnitude. I am very certain that she does not think being gay is sinful.




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  226. James Pearce says:

    @anjin-san: Yeah, I’m not sure if Jenos is explaining his own beliefs or just being a sock-puppet. But if we’re talking about “gay people as sinners” we’re not talking politics. We’re talking doctrine.

    Problem, of course, is that there’s no reason why that doctrine should be preferred to the “no discrimination” doctrine they would like to supplant.




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  227. Eric Florack says:

    @C. Clavin: So, as Christians, we are to ignore the writings of ST. Paul on the subject? On what basis?




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  228. James Pearce says:

    @Eric Florack:

    So, as Christians, we are to ignore the writings of ST. Paul on the subject?

    Re-read Romans again, Florack. The whole thing. Use your highlighter this time.

    Paul wasn’t saying what you think he was saying.




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  229. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    No.
    But first recognize that the first bible was written long after the characters in the book died…hearsay is inadmissible.
    Second…you need to actually understand what the charachter was actually saying…and not just lean on a translation of a translation of a translation of an ancient text that supports your pre-determined beliefs.
    Scholars mostly question the interpretation of fundamentalists.
    Indeed…fundamentalists like to pick and choose what is metaphor and what is allegory and what is literal. How is that possible? On whose authority?
    Religion is called faith for a reason. You have to have faith in what there exists no proof of.




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  230. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And embracing a sinner is pretty damned difficult when the sinner is insisting that their sin isn’t sinful,

    And here is the problem with the religious right in a nutshell. Personal growth is difficult. Spiritual growth is difficult and painful. Following what Jesus taught is actually pretty hard. All kind of human weakness and venality has to be dragged out of the shadows, dealt with and overcome. The lesser parts of our nature will fight us tooth and nail. Fear must be overcome, and we need to learn to become comfortable with that which discomforts us.

    Talking the talk is so easy. Walking the walk – not so much. So we have lots of loud proclamations of love for Jesus and moral superiority, and not a lot of people following the example of the Pope, who frequently spends his nights in the streets of Rome, tending to the homeless dressed in a simple priests garb.

    I’m not Catholic, I’m not a Christian, but I love that guy. He gets it.




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  231. C. Clavin says:

    @anjin-san:
    Yeah…Francis may convert me.
    Well…probably not.
    But he’s the best Pope in a long while.




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  232. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I mean, isn’t the common thread here the left using the power of government to defeat religion?

    Um, no. Next question?




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  233. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Religious freedom, as defined by modern liberals: you’re allowed to believe whatever you like. But you can only exercise your religion in ways in which they approve.

    Almost, but not quite. You’re allowed to believe whatever you like, but your status under the law is the same as every other religion, and some laws (like the ones against human sacrifice) don’t care what you believe.

    Why is this so hard for you to grasp?




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  234. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    demanding someone who is religiously opposed to gay marriage to perform one

    I will admit, it takes some amazing chutzpah to keep repeating this lie even after it has been debunked a dozen times in this thread. I could almost admire that, if it weren’t in such an odious cause.




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  235. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: When was the last time a cruise ship (the kind of ship most likely to perform a wedding) was registered in the US?




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  236. humanoid.panda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: In fact, as Doug made clear, they are themselves endorsing option no. 2 (and that option doesn’t require them to hire anyone, just to allow the hypothetical gay couple to bring their own officiant). What’s the problem with that option as far as you are concerned?




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  237. humanoid.panda says:

    @humanoid.panda: Notice that unlike some people on this thread I don’t think that they should be forced to officiate in a ceremony against their will, but that they must provide access to their chapel, in whatever way that is best suited to them and fits the language and spirit of the law. In other words, if they let couples get their own officiants, everything is cool. If they hire an officiant, it is also cool. If however, and run a for profit business and not a Church, and derive their power of to officiate from the state, and refuse to make any accomodation, then we have a problem.

    As a side effect, here is a true story.
    Me and my wife had a Jewish wedding, officiated by a close friend who was not yet ordained. In the state in which we had our ceremony, a non-ordained officiant can’t make a ceremony into a civil wedding, even though under the Jewish law, the offciiant is only a master of ceremony- the bride and groom and 2 witnesses are all that is needed to solemnize a ceremony (notice that this factoid in itself invalidates all talk about marriage being linked to religion in any way in the American legal order). To get the civil ceremony, we went to a wedding chappel ran by a mayor of a small town in Pennsylvania. Even though we requested a civil ceremony, he tried very hard to smuggle Christianity into his text, to the extent I had to remind him that we are Jewish and atheist, and please stick to non-religious language.
    Did I shove something down his throat? Did I violate his religious freedom, or did he use the power given to him by the state to expound on his religion? I’m prety sure that nowdays, when gay marriage is on the books in the state, he probably thinks that it violates his religious liberty. Can that possibly be true?




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  238. humanoid.panda says:

    @humanoid.panda: Notice that unlike some people on this thread I don’t think that they should be forced to officiate in a ceremony against their will, but that they must provide access to their chapel, in whatever way that is best suited to them and fits the language and spirit of the law. In other words, if they let couples get their own officiants, everything is cool. If they hire an officiant, it is also cool. If however, and run a for profit business and not a Church, and derive their power of to officiate from the state, and refuse to make any accomodation, then we have a problem.

    As a side effect, here is a true story.
    Me and my wife had a Jewish wedding, officiated by a close friend who was not yet ordained. In the state in which we had our ceremony, a non-ordained officiant can’t make a ceremony into a civil wedding, even though under the Jewish law, the offciant is only a master of ceremony- the bride and groom and 2 witnesses are all that is needed to solemnize a ceremony (notice that this factoid in itself invalidates all talk about marriage being linked to religion in any way in the American legal order). To get the civil ceremony, we went to a wedding chapel ran by a mayor of a small town in Pennsylvania. Even though we requested a civil ceremony, he tried very hard to smuggle Christianity into his text, to the extent I had to remind him that we are Jewish and atheist, and please stick to non-religious language.
    Did I shove something down his throat? Did I violate his religious freedom, or did he use the power given to him by the state to expound on his religion? I’m pretty sure that now-days, when gay marriage is on the books in the state, he probably thinks that it violates his religious liberty. Can that possibly be true?




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