NOM BLOG

Another Christian Business Forced to Close Down

 

As reported by The Daily Signal, another Christian family-run business has had to close due to a “discrimination” complaint brought against them by a same-sex couple. This is yet another example of the real tragedy happening in our nation: people who believe in the truth of marriage and simply want to be left alone to practice their beliefs in the public square are instead targeted for persecution and punishment, with the power of government used as a club to advance the cause of ‘same-sex marriage.'

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This time, the victims are Richard and Betty Odgaard, the owners of Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa, which they bought and turned into a bistro, flower shop, art gallery and wedding venue. Members of the Mennonite faith, the couple had a successful business until they were asked to rent the facility for a same-sex ‘wedding.’ Because their deeply held religious beliefs preclude their participation in something that violates their faith, they declined to be involved. Within 24 hours a complaint was filed with a government agency. After the couple was forced to settle and pay a $5,000 fine, they had to stop participating in wedding celebrations altogether in order not to have to participate in gay ‘weddings’ that violate their faith. But portrayed as bigots, the damage to their reputation was done and the couple is shutting their doors.

The proposed First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) would prevent this type of government sanction at the federal level, thus leaving the same-sex couple free to find another ‘wedding’ venue and the Mennonite couple free to not participate. NOM urges state legislatures to move forward with state-based versions of FADA.

From The Daily Signal:

On August 3, 2013, a gay couple from Des Moines asked to rent Görtz Haus for their wedding.

Because of their Mennonite faith, the Odgaards told the couple they could not host their wedding.

Within 24 hours, the couple filed a discrimination complaint through the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

“We knew that the business was going to be in trouble almost immediately,” Richard, 69, said. “We had to get rid of the wedding business to avoid another complaint and possibly a higher penalty.”

The Odgaards never admitted to any discrimination, but agreed to a $5,000 settlement.

They also returned two non-refundable deposits for couples who, after hearing media reports, didn’t want to use their space for their weddings anymore.

“It was just the right thing to do,” Richard said.

. . .

The case was the first of its kind in Iowa, but it didn’t receive the same sort of media attention as the bakers in Oregon, the photographers in New Mexico or the farmers in New York.

The couple says that’s because pending litigation prevented them from being able to speak out, further isolating them from their community.

“We didn’t get the Chick-fil-A response,” Richard half-heartedly joked.

The Odgaards don’t blame the gay community for shutting them down, but rather, the state of Iowa.

“I think if people in Iowa would have had a chance to vote on this, it would have never have been this way. People in Iowa are pretty conservative,” Betty said.

“With the discrimination laws and the legality of same-sex marriage in this state, now you have to prove that you didn’t discriminate,” added Richard.

The Odgaards also feel they never got their day in court, and had the case turned out differently, they might not have been driven out of business.

“This was all administrative judgement,” Richard said. “The [gay couple] had a platform to file their case and we didn’t get our day in court with a jury of our peers.”

For the full article, please visit The Daily Signal.