(DES MOINES)–Dick and Betty Odgaard, proprietors of the Gortz Haus in Grimes, declined to accommodate a gay couple’s upcoming wedding earlier this week. Mr. and Mrs. Odgaard said that their decision came from their deeply held religious beliefs. The Iowa Civil Rights Act, specifically Iowa Code section 216.7(1), states that it is “unfair or discriminatory” to deny services of public accommodations because of sexual orientation.
One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing issued the following statement:
“Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in June, and the Varnum v. Brien ruling over four years ago that paved the way for marriage equality in Iowa, we appreciate that this nation and the state of Iowa have experienced real change that may be challenging for some people. When the Jim Crow laws were overturned decades ago, the culture didn’t change overnight even though the law did. Today, same-sex couples can legally marry in Iowa and have the same federal recognition as non-gay married spouses. So, while the law has changed we understand that the culture will take a little longer.
“One Iowa respects and appreciates that Mr. and Mrs. Odgaard are Iowans with deeply held religious beliefs and convictions. At the same time, we need to separate our respect for the Odgaards’ religious beliefs from the Iowa civil rights code. While religious institutions are protected by religious freedoms, it’s important to note that the Gortz Haus is a public venue. It 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.”