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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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CRIME

Man Shoots and Kills Atlanta Supermarket Cashier, Wounds Guard Over Mask Policy: Police

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A man pulled out a gun and shot and killed an Atlanta-area Big Bear Supermarket cashier over the store’s mask policy, according to police. Two people, including a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office reserve unit deputy who was inside the supermarket working as a security guard, and the suspect, were also wounded.

“The subject pulled out a weapon and shot a cashier at the location,” DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox said, according to 11Alive. “The individual is deceased.”

“Although details are not complete, authorities say that the male suspect was involved in a dispute with a young woman before he began firing at her inside the store,” the spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said.

There apparently was an altercation over the mask policy, which is clearly posted on the store’s door.

“A witness, identified as Alan Williams, said a man walked into the store, struck the woman with a gun, then shot her. That’s when the deputy and the suspect exchanged gunfire.”

 

This is a breaking news and developing story. 

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'CAN’T HANDLE COLD OR HEAT'

#AbbottFailedTexas Trends as State Electric Authority Warns of Possible Power Outages Again – This Time in Heat Wave

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Over the winter at least 151 Texans died as 4.5 million homes and businesses went without power in a massive failure created by poor planning, lack of regulation, and sheer greed.

Last week Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott promised he had fixed the problem.

On Monday, less than seven days later, ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, urged customers to turn air conditioning to no cooler than 78 degrees and to conserve power, as it expects more blackouts throughout the week – this time during extreme heat.

In a statement ERCOT also asked Texans to not use ovens, washing machines, or dryers.

“If you don’t need something – we are asking you to turn it off and unplug it if possible.”

Many Texans, and many Americans, are furious.

 

 

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THE GOP IS NOW THE QANON PARTY

FBI Warns Congress of More Possible QAnon Violence Targeting Democratic Lawmakers

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The FBI has briefed members of Congress that QAnon “digital soldiers” may become violent and engage in more acts of domestic violent extremism, like the January 6 insurrection. In an unclassified version of the threat assessment delivered to top lawmakers in April the Bureau warns that Democrats may be targeted.

Rather than walking away from the far right wing conspiracy movement that paints some top Democrats as part of a dark cabal of cannibalistic Satan-worshipping pedophiles being fought by Donald Trump, some QAnon cultists think “that individuals need to take greater control of the direction of the movement than before,” CNN reports in an exclusive.

The shift is fueled by a belief among some of the conspiracy’s more militant followers that they “can no longer ‘trust the plan” set forth by its mysterious standard-bearer, known simply as “Q,” according an unclassified FBI threat assessment on QAnon sent to lawmakers last week, which was obtained by CNN.

This might lead followers to seek to harm “perceived members of the ‘cabal’ such as Democrats and other political opposition — instead of continually awaiting Q’s promised actions which have not occurred,” according to the assessment.

CNN also reports FBI Director Christopher Wray “made clear the bureau is not investigating” the QAnon movement, but only crimes committed by its adherents.

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