Same-sex couples who want to wed in the Des Moines area had best steer clear of the Gortz Haus Gallery. Not only has the wedding venue already denied services to one couple, but owners Betty and Richard Odgaard are now suing for the right to only cater to heterosexuals, despite the fact that gay marriage is legal in the state of Iowa.
According to their legal representatives, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Odgaards should not have to put their own beliefs aside, even if those beliefs lead to the discrimination of others.
Here’s part of the statement from the Becket Fund:
Because the Odgaards believe that marriage ceremonies communicate a powerful social, religious, and legal message, they sincerely believe it would be sinful for them to personally plan, facilitate, or host a wedding ceremony that contradicts their religious beliefs.
Further, publicly associating with a wedding ceremony that violates their beliefs would send a message to others who share their beliefs, including some of their employees, that those beliefs are untrue or unworthy of devotion, and thereby cause those others to sin.
This suit comes after a controversial incident in which the Odgaards refused to host a wedding for Lee Stafford and his fiancé Jared.
The venue garnered plenty of attention for that decision. Much was positive — someone claiming to be a member of the gay-bashing Westboro Baptist Church called to say that members were on their way to help — but many gay-rights advocates administered criticism.
Some messages were downright vicious. The Blaze reports that one email read, “Betty, you’re very old and almost dead. How do you both feel, knowing that America, and the world, will be a better place without you?“ Not the most civilized way to get a message across, no matter how noble the cause.
The Odgaards stated that if they are forced to cater to gay couples, they would prefer to stop providing wedding services altogether.