QUEER VOICES

Iowa's Gortz Haus Under Fire For Rejecting Gay Couple Who Sought Wedding Venue

08/07/2013 01:17 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

An Iowa-based gay couple is crying foul after being turned away by a local wedding venue's owners, who cited their religious beliefs in rejecting the two men.

Lee Stafford told KCCI 8 News he and his fiance Jared toured the Gortz Haus in Grimes ahead of their forthcoming nuptials. Once owners Dick and Betty Odgaard found out that Stafford was planning a same-sex wedding, however, they quickly opted out.

"At the end of the tour, he asked us if this was going to be for a gay wedding and I said, 'Yes it is.' He said, 'I can't take your money and I don't do things for free,'" Stafford recalled.

In an interview, Betty Odgaard defended her decision to turn away the couple, saying it came from "our faith, our convictions."

"Can I have my beliefs without being ostracized for that? I think I have my right ... to stand firm to my convictions and beliefs," Odgaard, who said she and her husband have received threatening emails and calls in response to the news, noted.

Visitors to the Gortz Haus' official Facebook page have responded with a mix of praise and disdain. One user wrote, "Nice to know there is a truly moral business in Grimes! I will be visiting more often!"

Meanwhile, another added, "Huge disappointment to learn that your establishment is unwilling to accept money and serve as a reminder to a couple in love that discrimination is still alive and well."

Other businesses have come under fire in recent months for turning away same-sex couples hoping to tie the knot. In February, a Texas-based couple was told by the owners of the All Occasion Party Place near Fort Worth that they could not host their wedding there "because of God."

Similarly, a Washington state florist is now facing a lawsuit from the state attorney general after she declined to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

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