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Is Your Church Breaking Public Accommodations Laws?
Is Your Church Breaking Public Accommodations Laws?
To answer this question, churches must be well-versed in federal, state, and local laws.

The potential effect of public accommodations laws on churches is detailed in Hitching Post Weddings v. City of Coeur d'Alene, 172 F.Supp.3d 1118 (D. Idaho 2016). In this case, a married couple (the "plaintiffs") are Christians and ordained ministers. In 1989, they purchased a marriage chapel (the "Hitching Post") in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, which they operated as a for-profit corporation. In 2014, they executed the "Operating Agreement of Hitching Post Weddings, LLC," which states, in part:

The Hitching Post is a religious corporation owned solely by ordained ministers of the Christian religion who operate this entity as an extension of their sincerely held religious beliefs and in accordance with their vows taken as Christian ministers. The purpose of the Hitching Post is to help people create, celebrate, and build lifetime, monogamous, one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible… .
The Hitching Post provides wedding and marriage-related services for the purpose of publicly expressing and promoting that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, which is consistent with the owners' sincerely held religious beliefs and with their ministerial vows. Any request for wedding and marriage-related services not within this identified purpose is outside the scope of services offered by the Hitching Post.
The Hitching Post, consistent with its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs, provides wedding and marriage-related services also for the purposes of promoting the social institution of marriage as a fundamental building block of our society and promoting the public understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. By furthering these purposes, the Hitching Post endeavors to instill and promote this biblical understanding of marriage and marriage-related values in the communities where it operates. Achieving these goals is important to ensure that marriage remains a vital social institution that uniquely promotes the raising of children by their mother and father.

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