An Ohio minister would not be forced to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies, Ohio County has deliberated and has been approved by a district court.
The owner of Covenant Weddings Kristi Stokes filed a lawsuit against Cuyahoga County earlier this year over a law that prohibited places of public accommodation from undermining on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Violation of Her Beliefs
The Christian business owner and ordained minister won major religious freedom on Friday when the Ohio county agreed not to force her to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies under a disputed non-discrimination law.
According to Stokes, the law would impose on her to officiate weddings and compose homilies for same-sex couples contravening her beliefs. The lawsuit indicated "gladly works with people regardless of who they are, including LGBT individuals," but "cannot officiate or bless every marital union," reported Christian Headlines.
Stokes continues to officiate and foster wedding ceremonies between one man and one woman.
As part of the deliberated judgment, the county will not enforce its law threatening fines of $1,000-$5,000 per breaching depending on their frequency against Stokes or other officiants because Stokes' business is not a place of public accommodation. This is also because she and other ministers must not be forced to act contrary to their religious credence.
According to ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse, "No one should be forced to officiate ceremonies that conflict with their religious beliefs. Cuyahoga County's law made Kristi face an impossible choice: disobey the law, defy her own faith, or ditch her business. She no longer faces that choice. No matter one's views on marriage, we all lose when the government can force citizens to participate in religious ceremonies they oppose, speak messages they disagree with, and stay silent about beliefs they hold dear, reported Alliance Defending Freedom.
They salute Cuyahoga County for understanding and respecting the important American freedom and hastily responding to ensure that Stokes and numerous others do not need to fear punishment for not acting in accordance with their conscience.
The law Stokes sued is also named the "Accommodations Clause."
Filed for judicial approval on Friday, the consensus between the two parties indicates that Covenant Weddings is not a place of public accommodation.
Stokes released a statement in July that she cannot put her religious belief in separate personal and professional boxes.
The agreement noted even if the plaintiffs' services could be regarded as a place of public accommodation, the Accommodations Clause does not impose upon Kristi Stokes and other ministers to officiate or solemnize weddings against their sacred beliefs, reported The Christian Post.
Even if Stokes' company's services could be considered a place of public accommodation, the 'Accommodations Clause' does not mandate Stokes or Covenant Weddings LLC to pen vows, prayers, and homilies for same-sex wedding ceremonies.
They stated that Stokes' business is not affected by the law because it does not have a physical shopfront.