On Monday, Gregory Hamilton, testifying before the Committee on behalf of the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, the religious liberty wing of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in states of the Pacific Northwest, expressed a concern that HB-2 could be used to “coerce religious individuals and religious institutions to perform services, commit speech, commit acts, or to hire . . . against their religious convictions.”
Hamilton cited the recent case in which the Mayor of Coeur d’Alene brought suit against the Hitching Post, a local wedding chapel when the owners, Don and Evelyn Knapp, declined to marry a same-sex couple. The owners were threatened with a 180-day jail sentence and a $1,000 fine for each day they refused to comply with the local ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Hamilton called upon the Committee to provide assurances that the constitutional autonomy rights of religious institutions and religious civil rights of individuals be protected, and if such guarantees were not included he urged the Legislature to vote against HB-2.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a national decision on same-sex marriage later this year. However, the Federal government is Constitutionally limited in the scope of its ability to enforce anti-discrimination statutes in areas of commerce that do not involve housing, employment, or travel accommodations, or other areas where the Federal government is directly involved. Business accommodation issues are addressed at the state and local level.