An ordained minister in Ohio has filed a federal lawsuit against Cuyahoga County, challenging a law that would require her to officiate same-sex marriage ceremonies or face a fine of $5,000.
Kristi Stokes, an evangelical Christian and the owner of Covenant Weddings, filed the lawsuit this week at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
The county recently passed a law that forbids businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, says the Christian legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the suit on behalf of Stokes.
The law applies to 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.”
“Like other ministers, Kristi chooses which weddings to officiate and write about based on her faith,” the lawsuit says. “While Kristi works with and tries to convey God’s love to everyone no matter who they are, she can only celebrate weddings consistent with her beliefs.”
“Since a young age, I’ve dedicated my life to ministry, and today I love serving my community by officiating and writing for weddings,” Stokes said. “My religious beliefs influence every aspect of my life, and I can’t simply put my religious identity into separate personal and professional boxes. If you’re looking for someone to officiate your wedding, and you’re hoping to incorporate a cannabis theme or write prayers to celebrate an open marriage, I’m not your girl,” Christian Post reports.