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10/24/2014

Idaho wedding venue can be discriminatory so long as it sticks to new business model

by Jeremy Hooper

The Hitching Post, the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, for-profit wedding chapel that has been the subject of one of the most spun-up and twisted "news" stories of this week, will be free to deny same-sex couples. That is, if they stick to their new business model (which is not their old business model) of only performing religious weddings:

Coeur d'Alene Says Hitching Post Is Exempt From Gay Rights Law [Boise State Public Radio]

Which is totally fine. In fact, that was the gist of my post from back in May, when I first learned that this business even existed. Religious ceremonies are one thing; however, if you are running a business that sells all kinds of secular services 201410241144 and does not make faith a requirement, then you are a different entity. You can't have it both ways.

The issue now, all across the country, is going to be ensuring that businesses like this are truly fulfilling the requirements of being a religious venue (or "religious corporation"). I suspect many will try to claim they are even while still benefitting from the lucre of the secular world in a way that goes against their business operating agreement. They're not going to be able to just nail up a cross and say, "Welp, we're covered by Jesus." There is going to be a standard—one that deeply committed Christians should insist on even more than civil equality activists.

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*NOTE: One question I still have is why this business ever came into the news back in May, well before Idaho actually had same-sex marriage. My suspicion, which I cannot prove, is that the anti-LGBT movement put them up to it. I can't understand why the business would have gone to the press with such a preemptive strike unless they were planning this whole campaign that followed almost immediately after Idaho achieved equality. Not only do I suspect (but again, cannot prove and am not claiming to prove) that the Knapps had outside help, but I also suspect that there are many, many, many more business owners across the nation who they anti-LGBT movement is tapping for such purposes.

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