1. Prior status: The Hitiching Post existed as an S Corporation. A form of corporation used for closely held businesses where the business does not pay federal income taxes but profits or losses are the direct responsibility of the shareholders. In other words if the business has a major loss (like losing a lawsuit) then it is the owners who are personally responsible for paying for the loss.
2. May 2014, Idaho's ban on same-sex Civil Marriage is found to be unconstitutional in Federal District court.
3. The ruling was stayed pending appeal to the 9th Circuit Court.
4. During this timeframe history, May ruling and during the stay period The Hitching Post performed and advertised for "traditional and civil marriages". (This is important.)
5. In May a reporter talked to the Knapps about the District Court ruling and that Idaho's law had been ruled unconstitutional.
6. Still in May and only days after the District Court ruling the city attorney (Warren Wilson) was asked about The Hitching Post as a Public Accommodation and said the below (from the ADF lawsuit). Now if you look in the news report were this comes from (https://www.youtube.com/watch?featur...&v=s19VX8KVSp4
), he's standing outside the building so obviously it was a walkup, outside interview and we have no idea the level of preparation - if any. There is no "threat" there, simply pointing out that under the ordinance businesses in the wedding business would fall under the law.
“I think that term is broad enough that it would capture (wedding)
activity,” city attorney Warren Wilson said. Similar laws have applied to florists,
bakeries and photographers that have refused to work on same-sex weddings in
other states, Wilson noted. “Those have all been addressed in various states and
run afoul of state prohibitions similar to this,” he said. “I would think that the
Hitching Post would probably be considered a place of public accommodation
that would be subject to the ordinance.” In Washington, no clergy person is
required to marry a couple if doing so would violate the dictates of their faith
tradition. Idaho does not have a similar exemption in place, but religious entities
are exempt from the Coeur d’Alene ordinance, so pastors in the city are not
obligated to perform same-sex weddings. But any nonreligious business that hosts
civil ceremonies would fall under the city law, Wilson said."
7. Between May and October The Hitiching post continues to advertise for Civil Marriages.
8. Still in May, the Knapps contacted the City Attorney and asked him what would happen if their business refused to provide same-sex marriages under the ordinance. The attorney responded with what the law said - a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail.
9. September 2014 The Hitching Post changes it's legal status from an S Corp to a Limited Liability Company (LLC) which provides a hirer degree of insulation for the owners personal assets in the event of a major loss by the LLC.
10. October 7th Idaho's ban being found unconstitutional is upheld by the 9th Circuit.
11. Sometime shortly after the ban the website for The Hitching Post purged references to Civil Marriages and emphasized that they would only perform traditional Christian weddings.
11. October, SCOTUS rejects stay request.
12. October 15th SSCM's start.
13. October 23rd the City sent a letter to the Knapps that said "[I]t is my opinion and the city’s position that as currently represented, the conduct by Hitching Post Weddings LLC is exempt from the requirements of the ordinance and would not be subject to prosecution under the ordinance if a complaint was received by the city."
9. October 6th The Hitching Post files file documents showing the intent to operate a religious organization.