Two ordained ministers, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who operate a for-profit wedding chapel in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho were threatened with a misdemeanor charge for refusing to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. The Knapps responded by filing a lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order against the city in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho.

Law professor Eugene Volokh addresses this case in the Washington Post and concludes that "compelling them to speak words in ceremonies that they think are immoral is an unconstitutional speech compulsion. Given that the Free Speech Clause bars the government from requiring public school students to say the pledge of allegiance, or even from requiring drivers to display a slogan on their license plates (Wooley v. Maynard(1977)), the government can't require ministers – or other private citizens – to speak the words in a ceremony, on pain of either having to close their business or face fines and jail time."

Volokh also believes that the Knapps can be exempted under the Idaho Religious Freedom Restoration Act as there is not likely a compelling governmental interest in requiring them to perform same-sex ceremonies.

Read Professor Volokh's blog post in the Washington Post here.  


1 Comment

  1. When were they threatened?

    According to the information I have found, the closest they got to a threat was a city lawyer telling a local TV station: "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." (

    Last Friday, the same lawyer said no complaints against the chapel had been received. (

    To me this looks like a preemptive lawsuit in search of a persecution to justify it.

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