Christian-Owned Business Closing Shop After Refusing Same-Sex Wedding

"We can't pretend it's going to get better"

Another Christian-owned business has fallen prey to the government tyranny. Richard Odgaard and his wife Betty — both Mennonites — must now close their Iowan gift shop and bistro after being charged for discrimination for refusing to host a same-sex wedding at their venue, having to pay a hefty settlement as a result. 

Two years ago, a same-sex couple approached the Odgaards wanting to have their wedding on their business property. The Odgaards respectfully declined the service owing to their religious beliefs, which then led to the couple's filing a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. To avoid heavy litigation, Richard and his wife simply agreed to a $5,000 settlement, which crippled the business. Once local media covered the story, other couples began canceling their weddings.

"We can't pretend it's going to get better. There wasn't enough business," Betty told The Daily Signal.

Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa, will be fully shut down by the end of August. They started it in 2012 after buying a 77-year-old stone church. 

"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," reads a notice on the home page of the gallery's website.

"Our faith hasn't changed," Betty earlier said after the settlement. "Of course, it's kind of a crushing blow because that's a major part of our business and weddings are so absolutely gorgeous in that place."

Betty has since now fallen into depression and said they "didn't have a choice," fearing they would be targets for more complaints and lawsuits if the business continued.

Betty feels this would not have happened if Iowa's Supreme Court hadn't overturned the state's original ban on same-sex marriage.

"I think if people in Iowa would have had a chance to vote on this, it would have never have been this way. People in Iowa are pretty conservative," Betty was quoted as saying.

"With the discrimination laws and the legality of same-sex marriage in this state, now you have to prove that you didn't discriminate," added Richard.

Despite the pressure, the Odgaards have not caved in entirely.

"Inspired by their experiences, the Odgaards have organized God's Original Design Ministry, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, to advance Christian teachings, Biblical ordinances and natural laws as God intended," reads the gallery's website.