Betty and Richard Odgaard, a Christian couple from Grimes, IA, are throwing themselves a pity party now that they’re shutting down their business after discriminating against a gay couple.
“We can’t pretend it’s going to get better,” Betty told The Daily Signal. “There wasn’t enough business.”
The Odgaards own Görtz Haus Gallery, a bistro and flower shop that doubles as an art gallery and wedding venue. In August 2013, a same-sex couple inquired about holding their wedding there. But the Odgaard’s rejected the idea, citing their religious objections.
“We knew that the business was going to be in trouble almost immediately,” Richard said.
And he might have been right. The couple filed a discrimination complaint through the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Rather than battle it out in court, the Odgaards agreed to pay a $5000 settlement because, Richard says, “we knew what the outcome was going to be.”
But that was only the beginning of their troubles.
Two other couples pulled out of weddings at Görtz Haus, which quickly developed a reputation for being the place that discriminates among customers on an arbitrary basis.
The Odgaards said their business had to go “on life support” as they became “targets” of neighborhood boycotts that made them feel “isolated.”
“They didn’t come in because the people who are against us are more vocal than the people who are in our court,” Richard said.
Or perhaps they just suck at business and make poor, discriminatory decisions.
Meanwhile, Betty sunk into a “really dark depression” so debilitating that she was forced to seek professional help.
“I’m a melancholy artist and no stranger to depression,” she said, “but this took me down to the darkest I’ve ever been before.”
Nearly two years later, Görtz Haus is closing its doors for good.
The couple now plans to spend their time promoting religious liberty, “regardless of what your religion is,” Richard said.
Good. We’re looking forward to the day they take up the cause of the Metropolitan Community Church, the international Christian denomination that is home to a huge LGBT faith community.