In the push
between a North Idaho wedding chapel and Coeur d'Alene's ordinance barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, city officials are saying "I don't."
According to the Coeur d'Alene Press
, City Attorney Mike Gridley declined to press charges against the Hitching Post
, whose owners made national headlines after refusing to provide wedding services for same-sex couples, despite the recent court ruling legalizing gay marriage in Idaho
and Coeur d'Alene's nondiscrimination ordinance
"The [city] prosecutor has declined to pursue criminal charges because the Hitching Post is a religious corporation that is exempt from the city's anti-discrimination ordinance," the city stated in an Oct. 24 news release.
According to the Press
, the city's position that the Hitching Post is a "religious corporation" is a reversal of its earlier stance. The Hitching Post—which has been marrying North Idaho couples for almost a century—is organized as a for-profit, registered limited liability company, but owners Don and Evelyn Knapp filed a federal civil rights suit against the city of Coeur d'Alene in mid-October, claiming its nondiscrimination ordinance violated their religious rights by requiring them to carry out same-sex marriages.
As a for-profit company, the Hitching Post would be held accountable to the nondiscrimination ordinance, but, the Press
reports, the Knapps filed paperwork prior to their lawsuit establishing the Hitching Post as a for-profit business and a religious corporation.
From a letter sent by City Attorney Gridley to the Knapps' attorney: "as currently represented, the conduct by Hitching Post Weddings LLC is exempt from the requirements of the ordinance and would not be subject to prosecution under the ordinance if a complaint was received by the city."