Coeur d'Alene Minister: LGBT Nondiscrimination Ordinance is 'Involuntary Servitude'

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In an opinion published in this morning's Coeur d'Alene Press, a local minister has equated the city's LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance with slavery.

"Can there be any doubt that this ordinance provides an avenue for coerced labor—involuntary servitude?" wrote Christian Candlelight Christian Fellowship Pastor Paul Van Noy.

According to Van Noy, the city's ordinance, which makes discrimination in housing, public accommodations or employment based on gender identity or sexual orientation a misdemeanor, violates the First, 13th and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment prohibits involuntary servitude and slavery, and Van Noy wrote that the ordinance forces business owners to serve people against their personal religious beliefs. 

Coeur d'Alene's nondiscrimination ordinance recently came under fire from religious groups after a local wedding chapel, The Hitching Post, sued the city for violating its First Amendment-protected freedom of religious practice. The city attorney has said, however, that The Wedding Chapel is not covered under the ordinance. 

Though the ordinance explicitly prohibits certain forms of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, Van Noy wrote that it forces business owners to provide goods and services to anyone regardless of whether the business owner supports or doesn't support the aims of the patron or client.



"For example, should a Jewish carpenter in Coeur d’Alene be unwilling to make wooden swastikas for an Aryan Nation group – the carpenter would be in violation. If a local pro-choice printer should be unwilling to produce pro-life materials for a pro-life rally they would be in violation. If a Muslim, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Catholic, Atheist, or Humanist et al. were sought out to provide any service, housing, employment, or public accommodation to any group or person with whom they are unsupportive they would be in violation of this ordinance," he wrote.

Van Noy went on to write that he does not believe that LGBT discrimination is a problem in the north Idaho city, and that the nondiscrimination ordinance creates a protected class out of LGBT people in the city. 

"As we knew before the ordinance was passed, it is now evident that the ordinance protects the rights of one people group at the expense of others. I stated in my arguments of May-June 2013 that our city did not need this ordinance because we did not have a problem with discrimination toward the LGBT community," he wrote.

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