After years of assuring Americans who hold conservative religious beliefs that legalization of same sex marriage will not impact them in the least, advocates of same sex marriage now seek to force conservative Christian ministers to perform same sex marriages.
The town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho passed an ordinance outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Now that a federal court has required that the state recognize same sex marriages, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation now includes same sex marriage.
Donald and Evelyn Knapp are ordained ministers in the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. They operate a Wedding Chapel called "The Hitching Post." Apparently, some local man phoned about scheduling a wedding for him and his male partner. The Knapps turned him down and now a legal battle has ensued.
The case is somewhat complicated by the fact that "The Hitching Post" is not a church; it is a business defined as a public accommodation. State law, however, does not recognize the distinction. It protects the right to act or not to act according to one's religious beliefs-- without regard to the particular setting. So the Knapps will probably win this one.
It is also a case of free speech. Those who believe that the law requires the Knapps to perform same sex weddings essentially are forcing them the speak words that they do not want to speak.
And in this case, it is more than just about words.
Much of our human "social reality" or social institutions rests upon speech acts, where the speaking of words by an authorized entity actually creates the reality. For example, when the US Treasury or Federal Reserve says that those sheets of cellulose fibers stained with green ink are "legal tender for all debts public and private," those words make it so. When a Dean of a College of Liberal Arts declares someone a Master of Arts, those words make is so. When a public school principle or superintendent declares that someone has completed the requirements for earning a diploma, those words make is so. When the IRS declares a local tea party organization a tax exempt entity, those words make it so.
And when a minister says that "by the power invested in my by the state of Idaho, I pronounce you man and wife," those words make it so.
To force someone to speak words that conflict with one's beliefs, religious or otherwise, is a most egregious violation of individual liberty.