Full story on the wedding chapel in Idaho that refused to marry gay couples.

Full story on the wedding chapel in Idaho that refused to marry gay couples. October 20, 2014

Dunno if you’ve been listening to Pat Robertson lately, but there are deadly consequences to same-sex marriage (literally, he used the word “deadly”).  Nowhere, apparently, is this more obvious than in Idaho:

Onslaught of sexual behavior!  Personally, I have very happy dreams about being on the receiving end of an onslaught of sexual behavior, but that’s just me.  So what happened here?  Well, RWW has the details:

He was discussing a case out of Idaho where ministers working for a for-profit business and represented by the Religious Right group Alliance Defending Freedom are challenging a non-discrimination ordinance in the city of Coeur d’Alene.

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel until recently said that it offered services to marry couples “using a traditional or civil ceremony,” and said that while its staff are Christian ministers, the business could “also perform wedding ceremonies of other faiths as well as civil weddings.” As blogger Jeremy Hooper noted, the chapel recently edited its website and “changed the text so that all the mentions of civil weddings no longer appear.”

And now, according to Pat, we must look out because soon churches will be required to perform gay marriage.  The horror.

Except it isn’t a bit true.  The Hitching Post is a for profit company and is therefore bound by the Coeur d”Alene nondiscrimination policy.  The owners of the Hitching Post were told this was the case and they even acknowledged being aware of this.  The owners are now confusing being subject to nondiscrimination laws with being under “constant, coercive, and substantial threats to violate their religious beliefs.”

Though they have not yet been found in violation of the ordinance, the Knapps have filed a complaint and motion for a temporary restraining order against the policy. They are represented by the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and allege that they are now under “a constant, coercive, and substantial threat to violate their religious beliefs due to the risk that they will incur the penalties of jail time and criminal fines” for refusing to offer wedding services to same-sex couples.

Yeah, I have religious beliefs that stipulate I should drive at least 10 mph over the speed limit, maybe more.  The government is also constantly coercing me to violate my religious beliefs.  Somehow I get by, because laws meant to protect all citizens are there for a reason.  The protection of all citizens shouldn’t bow before your specific, personal, oh-so-special religious beliefs.  Gay people shouldn’t be made second class citizens just because your religious beliefs require it to be so.  In that case, you’re literally arguing that laws should be based on what you believe, not what’s best for all its peoples.  So much for religion being good for the society as a whole (instead of just good for followers of that religion).

Yeah, the owners are pissing and moaning that they’ll have to shut down their business, but who is to blame here?  If businesses break laws, they are burdened.  A restaurant might have to shut down if it doesn’t measure up to health code standards.  The solution isn’t to exempt it from health code standards, it’s for the owners to abide by the appropriate regulations.

If a restaurant owner in the civil rights era said he would have to shut down his business because he was unwilling to desegregate the restaurant’s water fountains, would anybody think he was a victim?  Of course not.  The solution isn’t for the owners to be exempted from nondiscrimination laws, it’s for them to serve everybody equally.  If virtually any Christian were presented with this scenario they’d immediately recognize the hypothetical business owner as exactly the type of person for whom laws specifically designed to protect minorities from bigotry were created.

But the Hitching Post couple is worse than that.  They’re like a restaurant owner who flat out refuses to serve black people, and argues that his bigotry is special because it’s drawn from his religion.  This has actually happened.  In 1968 a South Carolina restaurant owner did argue before the SCOTUS that he shouldn’t have to serve black people on account of his religious beliefs.  The man was Maurice Bessinger who owned Piggie Park BBQ.

The attorney representing the petitioners suing Piggie Park also addressed in court the “First Amendment religious privilege claim that petitioner asserted that his religion required him” to deny service to black customers.

“I’m just a fair man. I want to be known as a hard-working, Christian man that loves God and wants to further (God’s) work throughout the world as I have been doing throughout the last 25 years.”

The SCOTUS ruled 8-0 against him (Justice Marshall recused himself).  There’s your precedent: you don’t get to discriminate as a business even if you think god is telling you to.

And now we have these Hitching Post people arguing that their bigotry against gay people shouldn’t be subject to nondiscrimination laws because they’re discriminating because of the love of Jesus.  Tough shit.  If Maurice Bessinger didn’t get to do it, neither do you.  If you want to discriminate start a church, not a business.    In America minorities are guaranteed equality, and if your business is going to take advantage of public roads and sidewalks to get people to your business, you don’t get to discriminate through your business.

And being Christian doesn’t get you an exemption to the law.

As for Robertson’s advice to the owners about shutting it down and heading to another state, go nuts.  Run to where equality hasn’t quite caught up yet.  It’ll get there eventually and you’ll have to shut down and move again.  Eventually you’ll find the last hole in Mississippi where discrimination is allowed and eventually even that place will have the appropriate nondiscrimination laws.  But hell, run while you can.  But that’s pricier and less respectable than just serving everybody equally, regardless of what pastors like Pat Robertson will tell you.  And don’t let them fool you: the only people to blame for the consequences of your bigotry is you.

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