There are times in life when a door of opportunity opens and you step through to seize the adventure that waits on the other side. We did that nearly 30 years ago, when we first started working at The Hitching Post, and then eventually became the owners.
As most business owners know, it is hard work running a business, even if you love it. We love ours, marrying couples from all over the U.S. and around the world at The Hitching Post. We’ve performed ceremonies for everyone from young military couples to people with disabilities and physical ailments, to older folks, still falling in love in their 80s and 90s.
The Hitching Post has provided nearly 100 years’ worth of weddings and renewals of vows, and we hope to continue doing so for generations to come. It is fun to meet people who stop in to say hello because they were married here 50 years ago — or their parents and grandparents were, and they have come to see where that special event happened. We’re sometimes able to help people secure copies of their lost marriage license, and do many other fun things to help folks.
We get to hear their stories, how they met, and all their good intentions for forging a lifelong union. Some need encouraging words; others need guidance for getting started in married life. Still others just need ideas for keeping love alive. For many, marriage is the culmination of first love, while others are starting over, their hearts still healing from the pain of past relationships.
Our official 100-year celebration of weddings will be in 2019. Just two years ago, though, we thought that was an anniversary we’d never see. Some on our city council passed a law that tried to tell us who we should and should not marry. They passed a new “non-discrimination” ordinance requiring us to perform weddings for people of the same sex — and threatened us with jail time or fines if we didn’t comply with the new ordinance.
Overnight, we found ourselves enduring hate speech from countless people who really have no idea what we do, who we serve, or anything about our background as ordained pastors.
We were devastated to think that the love and work we put into our ministry of loving and serving others could be taken away in a moment’s notice. I (Lynn) stood in the hallway with tears running down my cheeks, wondering, “Is it all going to be gone, closed forever?” We didn’t know what we would do or where we would go, but God had a plan.
While all signs pointed to our being closed down, we also believed God had a plan for us and would protect us. Since He is a higher power than the city or even the U.S. government, we chose to obey God rather than man.
So we prayed, talked to trusted advisers, and then contacted Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). We wanted to find out our options and how we could best stand our ground on both God’s principles and the U.S. Constitution.
By now, most of this community knows the story from there: we brought a pre-emptive lawsuit against the city of Coeur d’Alene. And, thankfully — after a lot of prayers from people all over the world, some huge support from local pastors, encouragement from so many others, and much work on our behalf by ADF — our long nightmare finally came to a conclusion.
In the end, the city didn’t change the ordinance, but the city did reverse the position it held both before and immediately after we filed our lawsuit, and the city did promise they wouldn’t come after us, for which we are very grateful. We hope and pray that our willingness to stand for our rights will help all expressive business owners be able to run their business as they choose.
The modest funds we received from the city in the wake of settling our legal claims went to help a couple of local organizations that work diligently to help people in our community.
The words “thank you” don’t even begin to express all the love we have for everyone in this community, and how much we appreciate all the phone calls, people stopping in, and emails from those sharing their love and encouragement for us and The Hitching Post. We are particularly grateful to Virginia Robertson, and to Pastor Paul Van Noy and the people of the Candlelight Church, as well as the people of ADF.
Most of all, we are thankful to God who has brought peace to our hearts and helps us continue to bless the people He brings our way in the best way we know how.
• • •
Don and Lynn Knapp of Coeur d’Alene own The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel.