The city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has determined that the for-profit Hitching Post Wedding Chapel can decline to provide wedding services to a same-sex couple without violating the municipal nondiscrimination policy.
City attorney Mike Gridley determined that the law’s exemption “religious corporations” was not narrowly defined as only being for non-profit organizations. Because owners Donald and Evelyn Knapp recently reincorporated and defined their new business model as only providing Christian religious services, they now qualify for the exemption.
According to Leo Morales, Interim Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho, the Hitching Post qualifies as a religious corporation so long as it doesn’t provide anything outside of those services. If, for example, it began offering secular services, such as the sale of material goods like flowers or cakes, or if it began holding non-religious marriage ceremonies as it once did, it would no longer be honoring its identity as a religious corporation.
Given the lengths the Alliance Defending Freedom went to help the Knapps completely overhaul their business to qualify for the exemption, it remains to be seen if they might try a similar tactic for other wedding vendors who’ve violated nondiscrimination ordinances across the country. If they try to argue that a bakery, florist, or photographer is similarly operating a religious corporation, they would hypothetically have to prove that every cookie, rose, and portrait serves a religious purpose.