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Iowa

Iowa couple turned away from wedding facility because they are gay

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

GRIMES, Iowa — A same-sex couple in Iowa says they were turned away from a wedding venue facility after the owners found out they are gay.

Betty Odgaard, owner of Gortz Haus, a gallery and bistro in Grimes, Iowa, that hosts weddings, said she and her husband operate the business based on their religious principles and refuse to allow weddings for same-sex couples.

“That decision is based on our religious beliefs. We want to honor that. We want people to know that is our stand that comes from our faith, our convictions. I think we should just stand by that no matter what,” said Odgaard.

But Lee Stafford says he and his fiance Jared were discriminated against, and that they plan to file a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Committion.

Watch a report from KCCI-TV:

Iowa is one of 13 states where same-sex marriage is legal, resulting from a state Supreme Court ruling in 2009.

Since 2007, Iowa’s public accommodations law has outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

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31 more reader comments:

  1. im a gay man myself but the great thing about America is everyone doesn´t have to accept everyone else

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 12:49am
  2. This is the message I sent to this business.
    You cannot run a business based on your religious beliefs. Just because someone is heterosexual doesn´t mean they believe as you do, unless you discriminate equally…do you turn away non Christians, atheists, wiccans….to say you discriminate based on your religion shows a lack of knowledge about the true spirit of Christianity.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 12:50am
  3. @randall no you don´t have to accept, you just can´t discriminate against another human being or violate their civil rights because this is America.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 12:51am
  4. That is illegal discrimination, Randall!

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 12:52am
  5. Marriage equality exists in Iowa; therefore, I do not believe they have the right to turn away this couple, as they provide identical services to straight couples.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 12:59am
  6. I wonder if these owners have a son? You know that if they do and if he happens to be gay, he would probably be disowned by his own parents!

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:00am
  7. They could do like they did to my sister at her commitment ceremony. They stole the food and were assholes. The moose lodge in Iowa city

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:02am
  8. If it is a religious-affiliated facility, then they are allowed to turn away anyone they want.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:03am
  9. That´s a tricky one.. On one hand I give them props for doing what they believe in and don´t fault them for saying no.. On the other it is discrimination which is illegal..

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:11am
  10. If it were me I´d be like OK that´s fine I´ll find some place else and I´ll be sure to tell everyone I know how you much you support equality.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:15am
  11. It is legal in Iowa to deny services to anyone that you please. However… it is VERY BAD FOR BUSINESS… would they do it to a black couple, Jewish couple, disabled couple, older couple who are marrying after divorce? Hell no! This is why instead of suing they should get the word out that the owners are BIGOTS.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:27am
  12. that´s very stupid in there part

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:32am
  13. I hope their wedding gift is a very big lawsuit settlement :-)

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:33am
  14. so sorry

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:37am
  15. How do you run a restaurant based on religious beliefs? Is their kitchen kosher? Do they serve no meat on Fridays & are closed Sundays? Just curious…

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:37am
  16. Bigotry is going to become quite expensive….bankrupt the homophobic breeder bitches

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:46am
  17. I am OK with that – there are lots of options – spend the $ a place that is positive towards marriage equality. I am sure it was upsetting, but in this era things are volatile. I hope they found an alternate.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 2:01am
  18. Despicable! I hope that place goes out of business! When are people going to stop being so hateful! Those two look fabulous and they deserve the same wedding as anyone else!

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 2:46am
  19. That place looked like a Dump and a Dive! I´m sure you found a better loving and accepting place to have your special day!\

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 2:50am
  20. That place looked like a Dump and a Dive! I´m sure you found a better loving and accepting place to have your special day!\

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 2:50am
  21. Go after them, make them pay. They are saying you are not as good as others. BIGOTS, I can´t stand them… Glad when they all die off. The young people seem to be over it.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 2:52am
  22. Awwww, poor babies, going to have to either obey the law or obey their religion (read: close their doors…) Oh well, either way I don´t care, one less set of bigots thinking that their personal religious rights mean that they can trample on others´ personal religious rights!

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 3:47am
  23. @ Alex, no you cannot just discriminate against whomever you wish for “religious reasons”…. Your personal religious freedom means that you have a right to, in your personal life, worship as you wish. It doesn´t mean that your business has a right to do the same, it doesn´t mean that you get to trample on the personal religious rights of others, it doesn´t mean that you get to pass laws based upon your religion. It SIMPLY means that nobody can tell you that your RELIGION has to accept gay people!

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 3:49am
  24. Once again, in the name of religion…..ugh

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 5:49am
  25. I recall a bakery that refused to make the cake for a gay wedding last year, based on “religious reasons.” I am thinking it was in Oregon, but I am not sure. Anyway, last I heard, they were being sued by the AG of the state for discrimination.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 5:54am
  26. Go somewhere else…they don´t want your business, some other venue certainly will

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 12:27pm
  27. I know this is not going to be the popular opinion, but that is their right. They are free, free being the operative word, to operate their business as they choose. This is something we have to keep in mind as we pursue the right to marry in all fifty states. I find this attitude disgusting, however, everyone is free to be an ass in this country. Now, find another venue, and make sure that everyone knows about these ass clowns. Use the court of public opinion to try them. A protest across the street might scare off potential business, but make sure your protest is legal and permitted. And yes, I am gay.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:22pm
  28. I wouldnt want to give them my money anyways

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 1:25pm
  29. Ahem….BULLSHIT!!

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 3:12pm
  30. you reap what you sew.. hateful cow

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 4:08pm
  31. I think privately-owned businesses have th right to turn down a potential customer, if they dont want to do business with them. On th other hand, this might have a bad impact on their customer base.

    Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 6:06pm