Iowa Venue Refuses To Host Same-Sex Wedding Due To “Religious Beliefs”

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 6.03.20 PM 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.

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  • bigomega73

    While people in the states that have legalized gay marriage may feel like it’s appropriate to sue businesses that refuse gay weddings based on religious beliefs, in reality they are only going to make it harder to make gay marriage legal in the other states. After all, this is the Great Fear that churches have been spewing forth from the pulpit all along, that if gay marriage become legal they will be forced to officiate gay weddings despite their beliefs. And these lawsuits just give them validation for that fear. In fact, I was one of those gays that laughed at that insinuation and called it ridiculous and that of course they would never be forced to do that. And others in the public media echoed this. Now it makes us look like we were lying to them all along. Were we? Was I also fooled by my own community?

  • andy_d

    @bigomega73: The venue was NOT, repeat NOT, a CHURCH or other place of WORSHIP. It was a SECULAR BUSINESS, operating under COMMERCIAL LICENSE and therefore subject to the laws of the state, county and city in which it operates. Nice FAIL in the art of obfuscation.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @bigomega73: You were not fooled by anyone but yourself! If there is a law against discrimination against ANYone, that law is not at fault; the offending business is. Lil’ Ms. Betty SHOULD have been well aware of the consequences when she entered the business world! I tire of these whining, moaning ‘business victims’ who should have studied up on the laws and the consequences of their actions. Now she can be sued, fined, and hopefully never be able to resurrect her business nor start any others. These dopes will learn somehow… just probably too late!

  • ncman

    The fear that churches have that they will be forced to officiate gay weddings has NOTHING TO DO with a business being expected to follow the non-discrimination laws in their state. In fact, these laws existed prior to the legalization of same-sex weddings. And, while cake bakers, photographers, party venues all must provide their services without regard to sexual orientation, no church HAS EVER BEEN FORCED to perform a same-sex wedding. And, none ever will be. Just like the Catholic church has never been forced to perform an opposite-sex wedding for a previously divorced couple.

    What is dangerous is for you to equate churches and their religious “rites” to businesses offering goods and services to the public and the public’s “right” to those goods and services being offered equally to all.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @andy_d: Thank you! People just don’t dig too deep for information these days… and the article was very succinct!

  • bigomega73

    @Dakotahgeo: actually the article did not mention anywhere that the Gort Haus was not a venue for worship. I’ve been to church services in non-conventional churches so it was not immediately obvious. But thank you all for your rather bitchy replies rather than civilly pointing out that I may be incorrect about the venue. It’s nice to see what courteous and mature individuals make up the readership on here

  • MK Ultra

    Religous beliefs don’t mean you can ignore any law you like.
    What they’re bascially proposing is “I should be able to murder anyone I want and get away with it because I’m a christian”
    talk about special rights!

  • Will L

    @andy_d: You are absolutely correct. Since Iowa recognizes same-sex marriage, there’s no excuse for this. May she go broke from legal fees.

  • stevens7676

    @bigomega73: WHEN YOU GET STUNG BY A BEE ONCE A WEEK FOR 10 WEEKS, I PROMISE YOU WON’T EVEN FEEL THAT LAST ONE. Why passively allow discrimination? This place broke the law, STING THEM BACK.. after a while gay marriage is going to be an everyday thing..WE’VE got a WHILE TILL WE GET THERE… BITE BACK

  • Dakotahgeo

    @bigomega73: You really do need to get your head out of your assets, fella. I THINK you replied incorrectly and should have replied to andy_d as I never mentioned a “church venue” in my comment(s). You have a lot more serious problems than the obvious chip on your shoulder. Grow up/sober up before you comment again, little guy! Scheesch!

  • Dakotahgeo

    @bigomega73: And the business venue’s name was the “Gortz Haus,” Mr Precise of 2013!

  • Wisconsin Gazette

    Iowa isn’t the only state reporting faith-based discrimination issues – there are lawsuits pending in Colorado, New Mexico, Washington – just to name a few. For more coverage on the wide scope of discrimination being thrown at LGBT couples – click here

  • erasure25

    @bigomega73: Nope. You’re wrong. Selling something for money in a purely commercial establishment has nothing to do with practicing your religion. Furthermore, its not a carte blanche excuse to break any law you want. You might as well say its against your religion not to kill prostitutes.

  • susansylvester

    just as Rebecca responded I’m surprised that any body can earn $8431 in four weeks on the computer. did you see this website >>>

  • Ambrose

    @Dakotahgeo: You’re right of course, but that’s completely overshadowed by your nastiness.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Ambrose: Thank you for noticing; I support your comment 100%! Do have a nice weekend! (Smiles!)

Comments are closed.