Christian Wedding Chapel Owners File Lawsuit to Defend Religious Freedom

by Rachael Lee  |  published on November 6, 2014

Donald and Evelyn Knapp, Christian ministers who own a wedding chapel in Idaho, were threatened with a jail sentence and $1,000 fine for refusing to host a same-sex wedding. The couple filed a lawsuit on Friday against the city of Coeur D’Alene on the basis that it violates their First Amendment rights and Idaho’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The original legal threat to the couple came as a result of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.

Though the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel was registered with the state as a religious corporation, it was obligated to follow the city’s non-discrimination ordinance when same-sex marriage became legally acknowledged in the state because it is a for-profit business. However, the lawyers defending the plaintiffs argued that this places an undue burden on the couple, as every time that they refuse to host a same-sex wedding, the jail sentence and fine will continually increase.

“If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for a year, they risk going to jail for 180 years and being fined $365,000,” the lawsuit argues.