ADF expends a considerable sum to get nothing.

Kristi Stokes
Kristi Stokes | via Alliance Defending Freedom

Kristi Marie Stokes is the proprietor of Covenant Weddings LLC in the Ohio. It is a one-person business operated from Stokes’ home in the Cleveland suburbs with a UPS mailbox in Parma, Ohio. The business was formed in May of this year.

Ms. Stokes solemnizes weddings and writes wedding vows. Stokes did not want to do so for gay couples due to Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, has made it widely known that they will file pre-enforcement suits to prevent states and municipalities from enforcing nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people. The result was Covenant Weddings LLC v. Cuyahoga County, Ohio filed in the Northern District of Ohio federal court.

ADF follows a predictable script. Upon, or shortly after, filing their complaint, the Christian legal group files a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent (in this case) the county from enforcing the law. Both filings were on July 22, 2020.

Somehow, this process required four ADF lawyers and one outside lawyer: Jonathan A. Scruggs, David A. Cortman, Katherine L. Anderson, Johannes S. Widmalm-Delphonse plus Matthew J. Burkhart of Gallagher Kavinsky & Burkhart.

I truly hope that Mr. Burkhart is proud of having abetted a hate group. His other hobbies include: Upper Arlington Lutheran Church Council Upper Arlington Lutheran Church worship team …

On September 3, the county responded:

  1. Under applicable law, Covenant Weddings is not a public accommodation and;
  2. even if it were a public accommodation the ordinance is not applicable to a religious rite.

At our expense, there ensued thereafter another 11 docket entries including case management conferences.

Finally, nearly two months after the county’s motion, the case was settled. Guess what the terms were?

  1. Neither Kristi Stokes nor Covenant Weddings LLC currently qualify as a
    “place of public accommodation,” as defined by Cuyahoga County Code
    § 1501.01(W), because they do not have a physical storefront from which they
    provide goods or services in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
  2. Even if Plaintiffs’ services could be considered a place of public accommodation,
    the Accommodations Clause does not mandate or force Kristi Stokes, or any
    other minister, to officiate or solemnize weddings against their sincerely held
    religious beliefs.
  3. […]
  4. Each party shall bear their own costs, including their attorneys’ fees.

According to ADF: Facing lawsuit, Ohio county agrees not to force minister to officiate, write for same-sex weddings.

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