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, as they spent weeks searching for a second choice location—the Gortz Haus a restaurant and banquet venue in Grimes, Iowa —only in the end to be turned away for being a gay couple.
Dick and Betty Odgaard, proprietors of Gortz Haus, said they turned away the couple because of their religious beliefs.
“It’s not from an angry place,” said Betty Odgaard, who claims that she is Menonite. “That decision is based on our religious beliefs. 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. Can I have my beliefs without being ostracized for that?”.
Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa — which advocates for rights for same-sex couples — said that as a public venue. “Gortz Haus is not protected under Iowa civil rights rules to deny services based on sexual orientation and cannot be confused with a religious institution. The Odgaards provide a service to the public that must accommodate all Iowans, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”