Dick and Betty Odgaard own Gortz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa. Their business — located in an old Lutheran church — contains a bistro, floral and framing shop and as well a wedding chapel that has proven popular for marriage ceremonies.
Unfortunately, the two were recently forced to launch a lawsuit to preserve their religious freedom — a bizarre action considering the U.S. was founded by people seeking religious freedom.
In August 2013, Lee Stafford and his partner Jarrod approached the Odgaards about renting their wedding facilty for a same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriages were legalized in Iowa in 2009.
The Odgaards are committed Mennonites and the couple refused citing their religious beliefs. However, Dick and Betty stated they would provide cake and flowers for the same-sex couple.
When the Odgaard’s turned down the facility request, Stafford and his partner turned to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission stating they were being discriminated against. Stafford and his partner have reportedly found another facility to have the wedding.
This prompted the Odgaards to launch a lawsuit against Iowa’s human rights commission fearing it would fine the Odgaards and even force them to allow same-sex weddings in their facility. The suit is being funded by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
In their claim, Odgaards said:
“The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is now seeking to force the Odgaards to plan, facilitate and host same-sex wedding ceremonies at the Gallery. Publicly asssociating with a wedding ceremony that violates their beliefs would send a message to others who share their beliefs, including some of their employees, that those beliefs are untrue or unworthy of devotion and thereby cause those others to sin.”
The lawsuit addresses the tendency by many human rights commissions across the U.S. to consider homosexual freedoms more important than religious. It was expected these commissions would equally protect all rights.
According to Christian News, since the issue became public the Odgaards have received numerous angry emails. One stated: “You are mean, rude, selfish, [expletive] racist sons of [expletive] from hell… [Expletive] your God. [Expletive] your religion.”
It amazes me how some of those demanding tolerance, are in turn so intolerant.
English Judges state Christians have right too
This is very similar to England, where the issue of conflicting rights and freedoms between Christians and gays has become so one sided favouring homosexuals, that a British Court of Appeals was recently compelled to state Christians have rights too.
The case involved Susanne Wilkinson, a Christian and owner of a a bed and breakfast in Berkshire, England. In 2012, she turned down a homosexual couple who requested a double bed. She was fined $6,000 but appealed the decision to the Britain’s Court of Appeal.
Though the three judges overseeing Wilkinson’s appeal “reluctantly” upheld the fine on a technicality, in its ruling the judges stated Christian rights are equal to homosexual and need to be protected.
In an interview with The Christian Institute, Wilkinson said:
“I am also encouraged that the three presiding High Court judges have affirmed that the human right of religious belief is intrinsically as important as that of homosexual orientation and that neither right in principle trumps the other.”