Law Forces Ohio Minister to Officiate Same-Sex Wedding or Face $5,000 Fine

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Friday, July 24, 2020

Owner of Covenant Weddings, Woman files lawsuit over law that would require her to wed same-sex couples

An Ohio Christian business owner and ordained minister filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Cuyahoga County over a law that requires her to officiate same-sex weddings in violation of her religious beliefs.

Kristi Stokes, the plaintiff in the case, is an ordained minister and the owner of Covenant Weddings, from which she officiates weddings and composes wedding homilies, vows and prayers for such ceremonies.

At issue is a Cuyahoga County law that prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. The law presumably applies to Covenant Weddings because it defines a “place of public accommodation” as any “place for the sale of merchandise to the public, or any other place of public accommodation or amusement where the accommodation advantages, facilities, or privileges thereof are available to the public.”

Stokes, an evangelical Christian, could be fined up to $5,000 per violation for not officiating at a same-sex wedding. Covenant Weddings is a for-profit business.

The law also prohibits her from explaining her religious views on her business website.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Stokes.

“Because Kristi offers wedding services that celebrate marriage between one biological man and one biological woman, the County says she must also provide the same services for weddings that contradict her beliefs or Kristi commits illegal ‘discrimination,’” the suit says. “… In reality, Kristi gladly works with people regardless of who they are, including LGBT individuals. She just cannot officiate or bless every marital union.”

Just as imams “should not be forced to officiate Christian weddings” and LGBT artists should not “be forced to” condemn same-sex marriage, Stokes should not be forced to officiate at a same-sex wedding, the suit says.

“The County’s law has left Kristi with an impossible choice: disobey the law, defy her faith, desecrate her ministry, or ditch her business,” the suit says.

The lawsuit alleges violations of Stokes’ constitutionally protected freedoms of speech, association, religion and press.

“No one should be forced to officiate ceremonies that conflict with their religious beliefs,” said ADF senior counsel Kate Anderson. “… Many different religions and countless people of good will believe that weddings are sacred ceremonies between one man and one woman. No matter one’s views on marriage, we all lose when bureaucrats can force citizens to participate in religious ceremonies they oppose, speak messages they disagree with, and stay silent about beliefs they hold dear.”

Mary Louise Madigan, a spokeswoman for the county, told The Plain Dealer the county would “vigorously defend” the law.

“It’s an important piece of legislation written and passed to ensure equal access and opportunity for all citizens of Cuyahoga County,” Madigan said.

Related:

Christian Photographer Fights Law that Forces Her to Promote Same-Sex Weddings

Court: Phoenix Can’t Force Christian Artists to Design Same-Sex Wedding Invitations 

Supreme Court Hands Christian Bakers Win in Same-Sex Case, Vacates Lower Court

Supreme Court Sides with Christian Baker in Gay Marriage Wedding Cake Case

Photo courtesy: ©Alliance Defending Freedom


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity TodayThe Christian Postthe Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/law-forces-ohio-minister-to-officiate-same-sex-wedding-or-face-5000-fine.html

Author: Narrow Path Ministries

Non-denominational, Independent, Bible believing Church

12 thoughts on “Law Forces Ohio Minister to Officiate Same-Sex Wedding or Face $5,000 Fine”

  1. NO WAY! The damn corrupted government of today has no power to tell this minister who to perform or officiate a marriage ceremony over because regardless of location this goes completely against the personal faith and practice of the minister’s religion which would not be a separation of church and state, but, more to the point of it being the state telling this minister what and how to believe as her religion, not what God in her faith says she must adhere to as her belief and practice of her Christian religion. This county in Ohio has violated her religious freedom and several other laws as I see it, and, should pay the consequences which to me would be any public officials involved in this horrid decision should be removed from office and hefty fines as well as a huge penalty settlement should be paid to the plaintiff hands down! Between this and the wicked Biden saying now that he wants Islam taught in all schools is a clear sign of the culture of death or (evil) has has taken hold in America; where this crap can even be debated! A moment of prayer was kicked out of the schools but Biden says a cult antichrist belief system can be taught to all children? This nation under God was founded on distinct Christian fundamental precepts and beliefs which are the foundational pillars of this Republic one Nation under God; but, evil agents like Biden would toss all of that aside and ruin America to replace it with Islam, and allow public officials to be telling Christian Ministers what to believe and how to do it! We are at the precipice no doubt; this is nearly full blown hell on earth!
    Reblogging this for sure!

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      1. Thanks again for sharing your honest insights and confidence that I’m only interested in doing the same! Mine have come over years of being a decent good heart of a person but then more from the torments wreaked upon me by the direct actions of others or their lack of concern coupled with my own human frailty. My outlook now is that if I can be helpful in sharing a bit of truth that will make some difference in helping God’s plan that is what I should do with my remaining life here on earth. What makes me so sad is that there is so much sin and corruption in his world. But, it’s in God’s hands and things are going according to His will. That gives me solace and confidence. Trusting in Him alone. Amen.

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      2. That’s the Truth! We are to be Good and Faithful Servants! Seeking to serve His will is what we should pray for each day; easier said than done because of our conflicting human hearts, but, with God all things are possible. We trust in Him alone and His will be done.

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  2. Reblogged this on Zero Lift-Off and commented:
    Law Forces Ohio Minister to Officiate Same-Sex Wedding or Face $5,000 Fine

    Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Friday, July 24, 2020
    reblog: by Zero Lift-Off Only The Beginning
    by Lawrence Morra

    What follows are my thoughts on this matter and a long comment I had just made to another blog about what I classified as the corrupt way of the world and how bad it’s gotten. This all dovetails as I see it.
    NO WAY! The damn corrupted government of today has no power to tell this minister who to perform or officiate a marriage ceremony over because regardless of location this goes completely against the personal faith and practice of the minister’s religion which would not be a separation of church and state, but, more to the point of it being the state telling this minister what and how to believe as her religion, not what God in her faith says she must adhere to as her belief and practice of her Christian religion. But now we see governmen allowing riots and mayhem in many states with lack of any accountability for most of the perpetrators and yet a Christian Minister gets hassled for exercising the freedom of her religion rights and good faith practice! This county in Ohio has violated her religious freedom and several other laws as I see it, and, should pay the consequences which to me would be any public officials involved in this horrid decision should be removed from office and hefty fines as well as a huge penalty settlement should be paid to the plaintiff hands down! Between this and the wicked Biden now saying that he wants Islam taught in all schools is a clear sign of the culture of death or (evil) has taken hold in America; where this crap can even be debated! A moment of prayer was kicked out of the schools but Biden says a cult antichrist belief system can be taught to all children? This nation under God was founded on distinct Christian fundamental precepts and beliefs which are the foundational pillars of this “Republic one Nation under God;” but, evil agents like Biden would toss all of that aside and ruin America to replace it with Islam, and allow public officials to be telling Christian Ministers what to believe and how to do it! We are at the precipice no doubt; this is nearly full blown hell on earth!
    (What follows are my thoughts I had just made to another blog about what I classified as the corrupt way of the world and how bad it’s gotten.)
    “What you speak to here is the way of the world and it is completely corrupt so nothing we do will change that. I have found lately that I see people giving lip service to one thing or another but all the while they are two-faced and fickle. On top of that today many if not most people are so selfish and arrogant they are vicious backstabbers when it comes to self over doing the right thing for others. This internet has become a tool of seeking self-glory or aggrandizement or in other words look at me I’m somebody and you should give me likes or stroke my ego; while diverting or distracting people from actually functioning as a human being in the real world. A young woman on her blog yesterday was explaining how she can’t stand the way she is always scrolling her smart phone and can’t put it down or accomplish anything as she admitted she can’t get into a college or university because her entrance exams on a few occasions were terrible and only because she hasn’t been learning or working to better herself for the last several years through high school and now at 21 years of age is as I see it a flunky or reject, all because the system is wicked and twisted making losers out of multitudes of people who are totally dysfunctional, or in other words not able to function in the real world! That young lady was in India, but, I recently saw another blog where a 19 year old who was supposed to be having an actual graduation at the high school wasn’t because of the pandemic so what she was busy doing was trying to make a video of her carrying out some stupid stunt at home with her siblings helping, that she hopes will go viral! The world today has become way too fake and full of self-serving bigots and liars or outright meaningless gibberish behaviors like all of the video clips on net sites or on TV of young people doing stunts and making their pets or other farm animals behave for a video to accomplish what? Is that meaningful entertainment? People don’t have better things to do? It’s like a world of mental midgets are going to be ruling this insane world in the future. Look at the MSM and what governments are doing with all the political lies and partisan manipulation of the masses all of it total lies to seduce or subdue the masses into a conformity that will allow the 2% or less of the human race to rule the rest. The human race had been for decades and is now at a fever pitch heading toward totalitarian control of the masses and completely turning away from God and His plan while accepting the secular poison of a world of sin and criminality with less rule of law all the time, or in many locales allowing Islam an actual antichrist cult to flourish; even here in the USA the sick evil Biden running for president saying Islam should be taught in all public schools! What? They kicked God and a moment of prayer out of the school system, but, Islam is good; this is work of the devil; a culture of death. This can only be heading to complete ruin and worshiping of evil. All this BS of people wearing masks is part of this controlling people like so many head of sheep. There is no virus pandemic that will wipe out masses of people if they don’t follow government mandates and no vaccine is required just like when the flu season comes each year people can get a flu shot or not but the flu comes and goes and mutates to a new strain the next year while some people die, which has always been the case and won’t change! The change is that nefarious devils are now planning to use all of this against we masses to control and change our behaviors and ultimately kill off as many as they deem necessary; or genocide. Big Pharma have been taking the lead for decades with ads on TV or the net to tell us to ask our doctor for this prescription or another to make this ache or pain and a variety of symptoms go away because medicine is the cure all and end all! People aren’t living right and are being damaged by the system in so many ways as for example fast foods or unbalanced diets along with recreational drugs such as pot smoking. All the stress and anger isn’t making people healthy either. Why am I saying all this, one reason because it really has me disgusted, but, I can only say to all of this, to people out there, that there isn’t much time to check into reality before it’s too late and first turn to God 100% asking for His deliverance because nothing here is working out and the human race is on a rapid run to hell in a hand basket. That’s my take and whether it helps anyone or doesn’t I have no idea but I needed to speak my mind. Thanks for the opportunity to do it here.”
    Lawrence Morra
    https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/03/14/we-are-on-the-precipice-without-any-doubt-in-my-mind/
    https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/07/19/no-impact-on-the-epidemic-curve/
    https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/06/04/evil-is-at-work-overtime/
    https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/07/08/no-one-has-died-from-the-coronavirus-respected-veteran-bulgarian-doctor/
    https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/07/08/basic-human-rights-infringed-upon/

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      1. You’re welcome and thank you for the opportunity to seek and share the truth. Let’s continue to pray and follow the will of our Father in heaven to the best of our abilities. Amen.

        Like

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