An Idaho Republican is considering legislation that would end state-sanctioned marriage to protest the court ruling that overturned a constitutional ban on same-sex unions.
State Sen. Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens) said he and other lawmakers are considering several options after officials in Coeur d’Alene told the owners of a for-profit wedding chapel that they must perform same-sex ceremonies or risk violating the city’s non-discrimination ordinance.
A violation carries the risk of a possible misdemeanor citation, according to the city attorney. Similar laws have applied in other states to florists, bakeries, and photographers.
Donald and Evelyn Knapp, the owners of The Hitching Post, have filed a lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order — arguing that the anti-discrimination ordinance would force them to violate their religious beliefs and Idaho’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“It’s very disappointing to me that they would require a Christian business owner to do something that violates their religious convictions,” Vick told World Net Daily.
The lawmaker said he expects the state legislature to address the issue, and he’s exploring two possible options.
“One is to try to re-establish the standing of those who have deeply held religious convictions,” Vick said. “Another potential avenue that I’m exploring is just eliminating marriage licenses in Idaho.”
He’s discussed the elimination of state sanctioning of marriage with just a few people, Vick said, but so far the response has been very positive.
“I don’t have a bill drafted or anything, (but) I have discussed it at some of the town halls I’ve been at – (and) actually seems to be fairly well-received,” Vick said. “In my opinion, if we’re not allowed to determine the standards for a marriage license, then maybe we should just not issue them.”
He admits that for-profit wedding chapels such as The Hitching Post occupy a different legal terrain than churches, but he fears LGBT rights activists will target them next.
“I believe the next step will be to say that churches themselves cannot discriminate,” he said. “They cannot discriminate, and the church will have to marry same-sex couples and not be allowed to say anything. Clearly they’re going after the freedom of the church’s speech through the hate-speech statutes.”