Weddings Are No Longer an Option at Gortz Haus Due to Controversial Lawsuit

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GRIMES, Iowa -- After a controversial lawsuit, the owners of Gortz Haus will no longer host weddings at their venue.

"We are definitely making a sacrifice for our convictions. It affects the value of our business," says Richard Odegaard.

In Decemeber of last year, Betty and Richard Odgaard agreed on a settlement based on a lawsuit filed by a gay couple wanting to get married at the historic church turned bistro and art gallery. However, the Odgaards would not agree to welcome the unity of same-sex marriages at their venue. As a result, they chose to no longer entertain weddings for all couples.

"We could either maintain a position to be at risk for future or subsequent claims of discrimination or we could get clear out of serving the wedding industry. That’s what we chose to do."

In 2013, Lee Stafford and Jared Ellers filed a compliant with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission alleging the public venue cannot discriminate against religious beliefs. Odgaard says he did not discriminate but rather refused to participate in a ceremony he says should only be between a man and a woman. In fact, the Odgaard's say they've had gay and lesbian employees and also have gay and lesbian friends but simply don't condone the option of marriage.

LGBT activists say while the venue's decision to turn away the couple was unfair, there was a fair decision made in the outcome.

"If they are going to discriminate against one group of people, the same gendered couples, then they really can’t be open for business for other couples,"says executive director of One Iowa, Donna Red Wing.

Red Wing says there have been positives in this situation and applauds the couple who chose to file the lawsuit.

"The fact that they did push this and file suit, I think showed courage and they brought this issue out into the open. A lot of people have been talking about this for a long time."

Gortz Haus attracts 15 to 25 weddings annually, a major source of revenue. However, Odgaard is willing to take the financial hit based on what he believes in.

"During the course of the time our belief and faith has not changed. The state law has not changed so we had a choice to make," says Odgaard.

Gortz Haus' art gallery and bistro remains open.

The money the couple received from the settlement will go towards LGBT programs in schools across the state.


  • John Smith

    Yes, and it would appear that they are seeking some sort of victimhood.

    Again, I find this very ironic when the Friendship 9 were exonerated just yesterday.

  • Fed UP

    I have been to this place and it is a lovely venue for weddings. Sad that a few have to spoil for the rest of us.

  • Amy

    Too bad that they were forced to make this decision. They have a beautiful location and building. Nice to see them stand up for what they believe in.

    • bjertbjaeger

      Yes, it’s nice that they chose to tell the world that the Lord is a hypocritical bigot.

      Maybe you can tell us “christian”, where did the Lord tell you to treat gays like 2nd class citizens?

      In fact, I defy you to show anything that the Lord said about gays at all, and I’ll show you all the times he addressed people like you, and not in pleasant terms.

      • Gregg

        Excuse me, but where does Amy’s comment refer to anything Christian at all? All she said was that it was nice to see someone stand up for their beliefs. It is sad that LGBT bullies are called “heroes” when they stand up for their beliefs – but anyone who disagrees or challenges them for any reason is treated like an outcast. Let’s call it both ways – One Iowa is nothing but a bunch of bullies determined to make everyone think as they do or shame (or sue) anyone gutsy enough to say they disagree with their twisted worldview.

      • Potsie Weber

        In the Torah back in the Old Testament Leviticus 18:22. Once God says something is an abomination it’s ALWAYS an abomination. Malachi 3:6 God says He never changes. Want a New Testament verse? Try 1st Corinthians 6:9 for starters. Jesus magnified God’s Law, while we walk in grace, we are reminded that Yeshua didn’t not come to do away with Law – but fulfill it (fill full in the original text). He also told us to disassociate with the disorderly or anyone who walks contrary to the sound doctrine of the gospel. Scripture is the final authority for the owners of this business and props to them. They may have lost a few customers over this, but God will supply all their needs according to His riches and glory.

      • Paul

        Hey loud mouth, it does say in the bible that it is a sin and God’s answer to that sin was to flood the earth and kill all the evil scum, as much as I’d like to drown them all once again we’d settle for the fruit loops to crawl back into their closets.

      • bjertbjaeger

        Actually Paul, the New Covenant says you aren’t allowed to judge others for sin unless you yourself are sinless. By your witness, the Lord is a hate filled bigoted hypocrite who doesn’t follow His own teachings.

      • Gregg

        What about One Iowa discriminating against people? They bully others into accepting their beliefs. And anyone who doesn’t is persecuted by them endlessly.

      • bjertbjaeger

        The religious right tries to treat gays as less than full human beings and deny them their human rights, and then says being told they can’t do that is just as bad? That’s freaking hilarious.

        When do I get the right to discriminate against phony christians?

  • John Smith

    I would like to ask WHO-TV News and their news personality exactly what THEY believe is “controversial” about this lawsuit. Seeing as how it follows the law of the land, and all. FOR DECADES.
    And, was settled out of court without the owners having to admit fault at all.

      • bjertbjaeger

        Paul, you’ve never been there and you’ll never spend a dime there, but the good news is, since the owners are “christians”, money won’t matter to them. And they of course won;t take their grievances to court.

        oh wait, they already did, when the Lord told his followers not to go to curts of men.

        this story is a great way to expose the phony little religious hypocrites, they make it all too easy.

  • James

    Im lost for words….reading stuff like this anymore just makes me sad… they will be judged for their judgement of others… so sad… sorry to the couple that had to go thru this..

  • Patti

    I’m glad they decided to not be open for weddings. They were able to uphold their belief, which is their right, but not turn anyone away do to it. Just like Atlanta not too long ago. How would the world feel if owners of a bus line decided that African Americans had to ride in the back of the bus again? Come on people, why can’t we have peace and love for all of mankind. We don’t have to believe exactly what others believe to love them as people.

  • Josh

    I support the marriage of anyone who has the desire to commit to someone else. What i dont support is people being told how to run a private business based on someone elses principals. Legislating a particular cross section of our nation’s agenda is wrong, and is the cause of our divide as a people.

    • bjertbjaeger

      When I can legally discriminate against “christians” and refuse to do business with them because of their belief, I’ll consider what you say. Oh wait, “christians” have actually tried to have a law passed allowing them to discriminate while giving them even more protections.

    • Andrew

      If you’re going to have a secular business you have to abide by secular laws. There isn’t an agenda with that. You want to express your religious views…open a church.

  • John Smith

    You know, it has been a real eye-opener to see the number of WHO-TV News devotees who haven’t the very slightest idea of what Civil Rights actually is. Including WHO-TV news personalities who apparently think that this outcome is in ANY way a “controversial” one.

    This is really rather simple: In the United States of America, a company that exists to sell its goods and/or services in the public square is NOT allowed to discriminate with regard to the Americans it serves, based upon a well-known number of criteria. THAT HAS BEEN THE CASE FOR SOME TIME NOW.

    The owner’s of this establishment were always going to lose this battle, and they cut their losses when the opportunity arose for them to do so. That they seem to want to cast themselves as victims now is disingenuous at best. They are victims of only themselves.

  • Clyde

    lgbt’s are a hatefull bunch aren’t they. They can hate Christians etc. say whatever they want about them, but oh no, it’s not right to say what you think about them. Nice for a change to see some people stand up for what they believe.

  • Curt Smith

    They own the property. It is ENTIRELY their right to decide on a daily basis what it is used for and no one should be able to tell them differently. Can’t have your wedding there then move on. I am so sick and tired of people telling other people what they can and cannot do. Then the media and judicial system backs them up on it for the story value and look where it has gotten us as a country. You can’t have a White Entertainment Television because its racist, but we have BET. Can’t have a “Straight” Whopper referring to heterosexual people because its racist yet they produce a Pride Whopper. People just need to get over themselves and grow up.

  • katy

    Just like its their right to refuse gay weddings, it’s my right to not support them and their discriminatory beliefs. I shall not ever give them a dime of my money.

Comments are closed.

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