American Art Gallery and Bistro to Close After Refusing to Host Same-Sex Wedding
Dick and Betty Odgaard, an Iowa couple who attracted controversy for refusing to host a same-sex wedding ceremony in their art gallery and bistro, plan to close their gallery permanently, reports the Des Moines Register.
Financial woes for the couple’s gallery located in Grimes, Iowa, came after a 2013 controversy when a Des Moines couple filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission stating that the Odgaards refused to let them rent the space, a 77-year-old former Lutheran church, for their wedding ceremony.
The Odgaards subsequently agreed to pay the couple $5,000 and to not discriminate against same-sex couples. In January, the Odgaards announced they would no longer open their venue for weddings, in fear of being forced to host gay weddings. The Odgaards argue same-sex marriage is against their Mennonite faith.
A statement on their website says, “The Görtz Haus Gallery has discontinued venue and floral services for weddings thereby enabling us to conduct business according to our conscience without the threat of allegations of discrimination (Odgaards v. Iowa).”
With no revenue from wedding rentals to support their gallery, the couple has decided to shut down their business.
“Our case had everything to do with our closing. Once we could no longer host weddings it was only a matter of time,” Betty Odgaard told the Blaze. “The lunch business had already decreased substantially due to boycotts and all the slander and black eye now on Görtz Haus.”
Social conservatives have commended the Odgaards for sticking by their religious beliefs over matters of business.
Nonetheless, since 2007, Iowa law says that businesses offering public services cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation.
The Odgaards, who opened their gallery in 2002, did not set a date for their closing, but they say it could be sometime in August.
After their experience in 2013, the couple founded a non-profit organization, Gods Original Design Ministry, whose mission is to promote one-man and one-woman marriages.
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