Earlier this month, I dinged Reuters for a "two-sided news story" that really only told one.
I argued that the piece on "a new battleground of religious freedom" was framed almost entirely from the perspective of same-sex marriage activists.
This week, Reuters reported on two Idaho pastors opposed to gay marriage:
(Reuters) - Two pastors in Idaho, who fear they could be penalized for refusing to perform newly legal gay marriages at their private wedding chapel, have filed a lawsuit, saying an Idaho anti-discrimination law violates their right to free speech and religious liberty.
Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who run the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d'Alene, are asking a federal judge to temporarily bar the city from enforcing a local ordinance that bans discrimination tied to sexual orientation in businesses that are used by the public, their attorney said on Monday.
The couple, both ordained Christian ministers, say that under the ordinance, they could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine each time they decline to wed same-sex couples in line with their religious beliefs.
"The government has no business compelling ministers to violate their beliefs and break their ordination vows or risk escalating jail time and fines," said the Knapps' attorney, Jeremy Tedesco.
Later, the story provides more background:
The lawsuit said the city contends that because the chapel is not a church, it is not exempt from the ordinance and must afford gays the same rights as other couples seeking to wed.
The Knapps on Friday "respectfully declined such a ceremony," Tedesco said. By Monday, they had not been charged with violating the non-discrimination ordinance, he said.
The Knapps said in the lawsuit filed on Friday in U.S. District Court that their business was formed as an avenue to exercise their religious beliefs, which include helping people "create, celebrate and build lifetime, monogamous one-man one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible."
Alas, Reuters does a much better job this time of fairly representing the arguments of those with religious freedom concerns.
What's missing? Once again, it's the other side. The Idaho story lacks any input from supporters of gay marriage.
Meanwhile, former GetReligionista Mark Kellner, writing for the Deseret News National Edition, provides a textbook example of how to quote both sides and let readers judge the facts for themselves:
UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, blogging for The Washington Post, comes down on the side of the Knapps' claim that applying the nondiscrimination ordinance would be unconstitutional: "Compelling them to speak words in ceremonies that they think are immoral is an unconstitutional speech compulsion."
Volokh said the move would also violate Idaho's 14-year-old Free Exercise of Religion Protected statute, which says "government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability," such as the local nondiscrimination ordinance.
But Jennifer C. Pizer, a senior counsel with the Lambda Legal Foundation, a gay rights law firm in Los Angeles, told the Deseret News it's the nature of the Knapps' business that's at issue.
"If someone is operating a commercial business, the rules should apply in a fair and equal manner," Pizer said. "What is the nature of the activity? If it's a religious sacrament, it's constitutionally protected. If it's commercial, the state can regulate it to protect others."
Because the Knapps were each ordained by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, that may create an "interesting" legal issue, Pizer added.
Hey Reuters, see how easy that was?