Discrimination | Gay Marriage | Iowa | News

Iowa Wedding Venue Tells Gay Couple to Look Elsewhere: VIDEO


Lee Stafford and his fiance were turned away from a Grimes, Iowa wedding venue because they are gay. Betty Odgaard, owner of Gortz Haus, the venue where they had hoped to wed, says she denied them based on religious principles. She is a Mennonite.

KCCI reports:Odgaard

"Can I have my beliefs without being ostracized for that? I think I have my right too, and to stand firm my convictions and beliefs," said Odgaard.

Stafford said he has a new location for his wedding and said rejection hurts, but he will not let it affect his wedding.

"We are going to find some people that are still going to be reluctant to embrace us. That is just going to happen," said Stafford.

Stafford said he plans to pursue his case with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

Watch KCCI's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Phone: (515) 986-3340
    Toll Free: (866) 986-3340
    FAX: (515) 986-0369
    E-mail: info@gortzhausgallery.com

    408 East 1st Street (Hwy 44)
    Grimes, IA 50111

    Posted by: Tigerama | Aug 8, 2013 10:49:06 AM

  2. Before anyone gets going, please remember the usual applicable issue is whether the state of Iowa or the city has anti discriminatory laws in place not the marriage question. A commercial venue is usually guided by that set of regulations. In California, for example, we had in place laws to prevent discrimination Long long before we had marriage rights. To claim she doesn't want to because of her religion could be smoke screen if Iowa has the same laws she has no case and she could have been violating the law for years not just now. Can anyone answer if Iowa has protections in place? Then I would also like to remind her about render unto Caesar. In other word her Christ told her to follow the laws of the country.

    Posted by: Steve | Aug 8, 2013 10:58:12 AM

  3. Mennonites worship Satan anyway, so they were better off this way.

    Posted by: Kev C | Aug 8, 2013 11:01:35 AM

  4. @Steve.... Yes, Iowa has non-discrimination laws for public accomodation that cover sexual orientation.

    Posted by: anon | Aug 8, 2013 11:04:03 AM

  5. Oh, dear, you poor woman, how upsetting that you're worried about being "ostracized." You poor thing, I wonder what that must feel like? Perhaps you should ask the two men you JUST GOT THROUGH OSTRACIZING, you evil twisted ugly awful hypocritical bigot.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Aug 8, 2013 11:04:04 AM

  6. They've had the non-discrimination law since 2007.
    She's broken that law.
    She should be sued and they should go elsewhere.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Aug 8, 2013 11:14:34 AM

  7. I guarantee this lady doesn't quiz her other potential clients to see if their morals and beliefs line up with hers. How people can't see this type of thing as textbook discrimination is beyond me.

    Since when do customers' morals and religious beliefs have to line up with the people selling them goods and services? It's so bizarre.

    Posted by: Jamie in Las Vegas | Aug 8, 2013 11:15:44 AM

  8. @Steve: According to the HRC, IA is among the states banning discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation. So, it appears to be another case of the religious believing that a non-discrimination law that has been in place for years somehow doesn't apply to them because their beliefs are special. Would she feel the same way if her daughter was turned away from a marriage venue because she's a Mennonite? Unlikely. They never realize that the same law would protect them.

    And, of course, religious zealots don't understand that they're free to believe whatever they want; they're just not free to inflict those beliefs on the public and insert them into a public business in violation of established state law.

    Posted by: Ernie | Aug 8, 2013 11:15:54 AM

  9. I hope they bankrupt her business with the impending lawsuit.

    Posted by: JMC | Aug 8, 2013 11:17:13 AM

  10. for me, the argument goes back to this - have they refused divorced clients wanting to re-marry, or refused clients who have had pre-marital sex wanting to marry? have they married any other "sinners"?

    sounds like they are cherry pickin' which sins they personally find offensive to refuse, so it has nothing to do with religion, and they are guilty of discrimination. this old argument is easy to bust.

    Posted by: northalabama | Aug 8, 2013 11:22:10 AM

  11. Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
    (I think that's how it's worded!)

    Posted by: jsb | Aug 8, 2013 11:23:43 AM

  12. If the other commenters are correct on Iowa's non-discrimination law, then she has clearly broken the law. Still, I'm torn as to what is best to do in response. There is power and a message in pursuing a law suit, and there is also power and a message in simply taking one's business elsewhere.

    Posted by: Hawthorne | Aug 8, 2013 11:24:49 AM

  13. I wonder if she has this fear reaction to African American Muslims, or Hindu Indians, or perhaps she is an equal opportunity bigot? If I was a community small business leader, I would want my community to support my lively hood. I guess if you built barriers high enough you can pretend to live in your own special world....

    Posted by: spg | Aug 8, 2013 11:25:04 AM

  14. I'd have a lot more respect for these people who refuse GLBT services based on their "religious beliefs" if said people ever actually refused services to others who were also against those "beliefs." When you continue to provide services to non-Christians, divorcees, fornicators, alcoholics and everyone else, but magically find God when dealing with gays, somehow your excuse comes off a bit hypocritical.

    Posted by: LiamB | Aug 8, 2013 11:25:59 AM

  15. RE:"Can I have my beliefs without being ostracized for that? I think I have my right too, and to stand firm my convictions and beliefs," said Odgaard.

    So she must also stand by the KKK in their beliefs. Or religious groups that believe women should have no rights.

    Posted by: 1♥ | Aug 8, 2013 11:26:14 AM

  16. Sue her. We need to stop turning the other cheek.

    Posted by: Tigerama | Aug 8, 2013 11:27:09 AM

  17. No one has the right "not to be ostracized" for their beliefs. She can believe whatever she wants whether it be white supremacist or anti-gay--but once she's made that clear she can't avoid the consequences of that and ostracization could be one of those.

    Posted by: db | Aug 8, 2013 11:30:35 AM

  18. Of course the usual suspects are crying that the owners have the right to refuse service to gay people because of their "deeply held religious beliefs." Not according to the law they don't.

    161—10.2 (216) Discrimination prohibited. No person shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability by any public accommodation by:

    10.2(2) Subjecting any individual to segregation or separate treatment in any matter related to that individual’s receipt of any disposition, service, financial aid, or benefit provided to other members of the general public.

    Posted by: Gigi | Aug 8, 2013 11:46:57 AM

  19. Yes, she is entitled to her views and we are entitled to react to them, we all have our responsibility to our opinions. So Betty, get use to it!

    Posted by: Matt27 | Aug 8, 2013 11:54:37 AM

  20. news reporters have to start doing a better job. this reporter should have said that discrimination in public accommodation is illegal, not that the gay spouse is going to pursue "what he calls discrimination."
    reporters need to start stating relevant facts in their stories, not just reporting what adversaries say. this is irresponsible.

    Posted by: woody | Aug 8, 2013 11:58:14 AM

  21. It's odd, I've known other Mennonites and they've been accepting and celebratory of LGBT folks. I think she's just a dweeb (and she'll be a poorer dweeb eventually because these folks always lose money on the deal). Idiocy is not a function of religion, but it cannot prevent idiocy if you already are an idiot.

    The saddest part is, TRUE Conservatives see this entire sort thing as a stupid smokescreen. You can believe anything you want, but TAKE THE CUSTOMER’S MONEY.

    Posted by: YsoSerious | Aug 8, 2013 11:58:59 AM

  22. i hope those are the correct relevant statutes, because i just emailed them to info@gortzhausgallery.com oops...

    Posted by: bandanajack | Aug 8, 2013 12:06:11 PM

  23. I, also, thought that Mennonites were gay-friendly. And, had no problems with same-sex marriage.

    Posted by: Jellybean | Aug 8, 2013 12:24:05 PM

  24. I'd love to tell her about the Mennonite bf I had some 15 years ago. I still think about him. HIs family were Mennonite missionaries from Kansas. DAMN he was hot.

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | Aug 8, 2013 12:29:45 PM

  25. The only way these bigots will learn is to hit them in the pocketbook, unfortunately. Sue her. Take over the business. Run it ethically to show that non-discrimination isn't just the law, it's good business.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Aug 8, 2013 12:43:43 PM

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