Just days after a same-sex couple in El Paso, Texas claimed they were denied service due to their sexual orientation, a second same-sex couple from Iowa has come forth with a similar (and equally depressing) story.
Jared and Lee Stafford thought they had faced the worst of their wedding day nightmares when the venue they originally booked for their nuptials had suddenly closed. But it was only the beginning of their nightmare, as they spent weeks searching for a second choice location—the Gortz Haus in Grimes—only to find out they would not be serviced due to their sexual orientation.
Lee said after finding the Gortz Haus, he took his fiancee on a tour of the venue. “At the end of the tour,” he told KCCI News, the owner “asked us if this was going to be a gay wedding.” After confirming that their wedding was, in fact, a gay wedding, Lee says the owner told him “I can’t take your money and I don’t do things for free.”
Betty Odgaard, the owner of Gortz Haus, told KCCI that her decision came “not from an angry place” and was “based on our religious beliefs.” The rest of her word soup sounded something like this:
“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.”
But what most of these bigots fail to realize is that it’s against the law to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Stafford said “the fact is she discriminated against us based on our sexual orientation. Iowa code says if you have a public accommodation, you can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation.”
Odgaard could have been rolling in some pink dollars, but instead, she says she’s received an incredible amount of hate mail. “Can I have my beliefs without being ostracized for that?”, she asked.
Sure you can. Just make sure you don’t lose faith once your business is ripped from your hands and you’re neck-deep in legal fees. The couple say they have found a new venue before the wedding, and plan to file a case with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.