Hitching Post owners will close before performing same-sex marriages

Hitching Post owners will close before performing same-sex marriages

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - The Hitching Post is one of the most well known chapels in the Inland Northwest. In its 95 years of operation thousands of people have been married in the small chapel. But the owners are willing to walk away if the ban on gay marriage is permanently lifted.

When the future of same-sex marriage in Idaho is finally sorted out in court, the owners of the Hitching Post said they are prepared to close their doors rather than conduct same-sex marriages.

"I think the Bible is pretty clear that homosexuality is not his way, and therefore I cannot unite people in a way that I believe would conflict with what the Bible teaches," Hitching Post owner Donald Knapp said.

When it comes to who can and can't be married at chapels like the Hitching Post, Warren Wilson at the Coeur d'Alene City Attorney's Office references a different set of rules. The laws of the land.

"For profit wedding chapels are in a position now where last week the ban would have prevented them from performing gay marriages, this week gay marriages are legal, pending an appeal to the 9th Circuit," Warren Wilson with the Coeur d'Alene City Attorney's Office said.

The 9th Circuit Court hasn't yet issued a stay but they are putting a halt to gay marriages until they make a decision.

If gay marriage stands, by law Knapp wouldn't have a choice as to whether he would marry same-sex couples.

"If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services for them, then in theory you violated our code and you're looking at a potential misdemeanor citation," Wilson said.

Therefore the Hitching Post may be facing their last summer and the thought is hard for the owners.

"The people of Idaho spoke when they passed the law regarding marriage, but it seems to me like it's no longer by the people of the people and for the people, but what one judge decides," Knapp said.

Knapp said he's okay with other ministers performing marriages at their facilities but it is not something he will do.

"I don't hate those people. I don't think anybody should ever be abusive or mistreat them or anything like that, but I cannot in clear conscience unite such a couple," Knapp said.

The owners of the Hitching Post say they will honor their commitments through the end of the year, but if the ban is lifted they will walk away. If it comes to that they will look into selling the wedding chapel and, if the new owners are willing to host same-sex marriages, they will respect their decision.