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Almost Everything You’ve Been Told About The Idaho Wedding Chapel Story Is A Lie

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The religious right is spewing hate and lies, claiming that two ministers are being forced to marry same-sex couples–even claiming the ministers have been arrested. How is this possible?

Two ministers, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, own a for-profit wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but say they cannot marry same-sex couples because of their faith. Now that same-sex couples can legally marry in Idaho, the Knapps face a possible issue.

Earlier this year, as you can see in this video, Donald Knapp (photo, above,) said he’d close the chapel rather than violate his faith. At the center of the controversy is their small town’s anti-discrimination ordinance. 

Bottom line, depending on how they’ve licensed their business, they likely would be exempt from the ordinance, but that hasn’t stopped the maniacal anti-gay religious right who have hitched their wagons to the Hitching Post’s story and are profiting from it — because that’s just what they do.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a right-wing Christian law firm created by the same folks who brought you anti-gay groups like the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Coral Ridge Ministries, among others. It’s headed by the guy who made his name investigating pornography during the Reagan years, under Attorney General Edwin Meese.

The ADF claims an 80 percent winning record, although it has lost many high-profile cases, including Bostic v. Rainey, which brought same-sex marriage to Virginia, Bishop v. Oklahoma, which did the same for Oklahoma, the Elane Photography case, which found that photographers cannot refuse to do business with same-sex couples, and most infamously, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which ultimately brought same-sex marriage to California.

Now, the ADF has filed suit in Idaho, claiming two ministers who own a wedding chapel have licensed it as a religious business and therefore should be exempt from their local anti-discrimination ordinance.

The suit itself would appear to contain several incorrect statements, including the extent of the Knapp’s liability, but we’re not attorneys and can’t speak to the merits of the case.

The ADF claims that last Friday the Knapps “respectfully declined” to perform a same-sex wedding “and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.”

Having read the City of Coeur d’Alene’s anti-discrimination law, I am of the opinion that the fine is $100 to $1000 per instance, not per day, and only if the City chooses to impose a fine at all.

UPDATE: Entire Hitching Post Controversy Is False: ACLU Finds Chapel Falls Under Religious Exemption

Meanwhile, the religious right and the far right media have gone to town on this story over the past few days, and the lies they’re telling are atrocious.

A story Monday at the right-wing American News is titled: “City Arrests Pastors For Refusing To Perform Gay Weddings.

That’s a lie.

A story at what appears to be Herman Cain’s website, is titled, “Idaho city tells pastors: Celebrate gay weddings or face fines, jail time.”

That’s a stretch.

It has one word in its first sentence: “Fascism.”

Bakers, photographers and florists are being forced to shut down their businesses unless they accede to demands that they join in the celebration of gay “marriages,” [sic] but so far no one has faced jail time for putting commitment to the Word of God ahead of the demands of homosexuals and their cultural champions.

Until now. A couple in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho who own a wedding chapel there declined the request of a gay couple that they perform their “wedding.” They [sic] couple did what gay couples seem to do a lot in these situations. They didn’t just go find someone else. They complained to authorities, who are now threatening to throw the pastors in jail. 

First, “being forced to shut down their businesses” is stretching the truth massively. If a business owner chooses to shut their business rather than follow the law of the state that licenses them to do business, that’ not “being forced.”

Second, there has not been any complaint filed, as of this writing, against the wedding chapel, known as “The Hitching Post.” 

Even the Alliance Defending Freedom seems to be fibbing.

Two Ministers Ordered To Perform Same-Sex Wedding Face Jail, Fines,” reads an article on the ADF’s own website. That can only be true if indeed the Knapps were “ordered to perform [a] same-sex wedding.” They have not been. Nor do they currently face jail time or fines.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, super-sleuth blogger and LGBT activist Jeremy Hooper reported that recently, the Hitching Post’s website was changed from reading:

We also perform wedding ceremonies of other faiths as well as civil weddings.

To:

The Hitching Post specializes in small, short, intimate, and private weddings for couples who desire a traditional Christian wedding ceremony.

But in an article published earlier today at none other than the Coeur d’Alene Press, the extent of the right wing’s madness seems to have been exposed.

“When contacted by The [Coeur d’Alene] Press for comment, Don Knapp said the Hitching Post is not operating as a not-for-profit religious corporation.”

So, now they have a problem.

Worse, so may the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Donald Knapp also told the Coeur d’Alene Press he doesn’t even know the ADF attorney who has been emailing with the City of Coeur d’Alene.

And even worse for the ADF’s case:

“We have never threatened to jail them, or take legal action of any kind,” said city spokesman Keith Erickson.

So, from start to finish (or, til now, since the religious right sees this as a money-maker) this story has been built on one lie after another.

 

Image: YouTube

 

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Madison Cawthorn Retains High-Powered GOP Attorney for Case Seeking to Disqualify Him as an Insurrectionist

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U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is facing several six challengers to his seat in the House of Representatives this year. Two Democrats will face off, with one becoming their party’s nominee. Four Republicans are primarying the far-right freshman lawmaker, one of those five will go on to face the Democratic challenger.

But Congressman Cawthorn is facing an even great challenge, and he’s taking it seriously.

A group of attorneys is looking at both the 14 Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and North Carolina law, in an attempt to have him declared an insurrectionist and therefore unfit to serve.

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress,” the 14th Amendment reads, “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress…shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

The New York Times Tuesday night reports “Mr. Cawthorn, 26, who is in his first term in Congress, has denounced the case as an egregious misreading of the 14th Amendment, but he has retained James Bopp Jr., one of the most prominent conservative campaign lawyers in the country, as counsel.”

Bopp, known as being one of the attorneys who won the democracy-damning Citizens United case at the Supreme Court, flooding American politics with millions (billions?) in dark money. He’s also been a vice-chair of the RNC, and is recognized as a top conservative lawyer.

The Times adds that “North Carolina’s election statute offers challengers a remarkably low bar to question a candidate’s constitutional qualifications for office. Once someone establishes a ‘reasonable suspicion or belief’ that a candidate is not qualified, the burden shifts to the officeseeker to prove otherwise.”

Other Republicans are likely worried, which should have some wondering who’s footing the bill for Bopp.

“If Mr. Cawthorn is labeled an ‘insurrectionist,’ that could have broader ramifications. Other Republican House members, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, face similar accusations, but their state’s election laws present higher hurdles for challenges to their candidate qualifications. If one of their colleagues is disqualified for his role in encouraging the rioters, those hurdles might become easier to clear.”

Read the entire Times report here.

 

 

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Chasten Buttigieg Slams Florida GOP’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill for ‘Pushing LGBTQ Families Back Into the Closet’

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Former school teacher Chasten Buttigieg is slamming Florida legislation dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would ban discussion of LGBTQ issues in public schools under the guise of “parental rights,” saying it will “kill kids.”

Appearing on CNN Buttigieg asked, “what kind of country we’re building, or in Florida, what kind of state are you building where you’re essentially pushing kids back into the closet, you’re saying we can’t talk about you? We can’t even talk about your families.”

“And you know, as a kid who grew up for 18 years, being told, ‘you don’t belong, something about you is wrong.’ Sometimes you take that trauma to heart and unfortunately there are a lot of kids in this country who do the worst because we tell them, ‘something about you is twisted and you don’t belong here.'”

Buttigieg railed against the bill over the weekend, posting a tweet pointing to a Trevor Project study that he says found “42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year.”

The bill, sponsored by freshman Republican state Rep. Joe Harding, in part reads: “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

Buttigieg, who is married to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, said, “if kids come into the classroom Monday morning, and they’re all talking about their weekends, and hypothetically a kid like mine says, ‘I had the best weekend with my dad. We went to the zoo, we went and got ice cream,’ is the teacher supposed to say, ‘hey, we don’t talk about things like that in this classroom’? You know, and not only what does that do to kids like mine, but also do to a kid in the classroom [who is] starting to realize that they’re different.”

Watch:

Image by Pete for America via Flickr

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Psaki Schools Doocy on Trump’s Infamous Twitter Tantrums After He Whines About ‘Hashtag’ Diplomacy

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question from Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy on Tuesday by reminding him that former President Donald Trump had a history of conducting diplomacy through tantrums on Twitter.

At a White House press briefing, Doocy asked why Secretary of State Antony Blinken had expressed support for Ukraine on Twitter with the hashtag “#IStandWithUkraine.”

“Has that ever worked in stopping an authoritarian regime from doing anything, a hashtag?” Doocy wondered.

“I will have to say that, unlike the last administration, we don’t think Twitter is the only means of engaging or negotiating or discussing important topics,” Psaki replied. “But it is important for us to convey to the Ukrainian people who do view commentary through a range of forums.”

Watch the video below from Fox News.

 

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