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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Preachers demonstrate in support of Coeur d’Alene wedding chapel

Three men who describe themselves as street preachers staged a demonstration Friday outside of Coeur d’Alene City Hall to show support for the Hitching Post wedding chapel’s refusal to provide same-sex marriage services.

They were joined by a handful of supporters.

“We are a nation that is not on a solid foundation with God,” said minister Bruce Wakeman, of Spokane Valley.

The preachers railed at Coeur d’Alene’s new anti-discrimination ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

At the same time, Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage was struck down by a federal judge last spring, leading to legalization of same-sex marriages in Idaho last week.

Donald and Evelyn Knapp, owners of the Hitching Post and both ministers, have filed a federal lawsuit against the city seeking to prevent the city from enforcing the ordinance on their business based on religious freedom.

City officials this week said the Knapps may well be exempt. The city was inundated with emails and phone calls supporting the Knapps.

Evelyn Knapp said Friday it appears the city is backing away from any possible enforcement of the ordinance against the Hitching Post’s decision to not marry same-sex couples.

In a related development, the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations issued a letter Thursday that religious activity such as weddings is exempt from the ordinance.

That view was reached in consultation with constitutional legal experts, the letter said.

However, religious beliefs cannot be used to justify discrimination for sexual orientation in areas of housing, employment and public accommodations, the task force said.

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