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Mennonite Couple Fined for Refusal to Host Gay Weddings Close Business

Mennonite Couple Fined for Refusal to Host Gay Weddings Close Business

The Mennonite owners of a Iowa gift shop and bistro say they have to close their doors after they were ordered to pay a settlement when they refused to hold a same-sex wedding at the venue.

Richard Odgaard and his wife, Betty, are the owners of Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa. They say the business will close at the end of August, The Christian Post reports.

But, in a twist, the facility is set to likely become home to a church.

“If all goes as planned it will be a church again — and as it so happens, the church we attend,” Betty said. “Ain’t [God] awesome?”

About two years ago, the couple refused to rent their facility to a gay couple from Des Moines. The couple filed a discrimination complaint through the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

The Odgaards agreed to a $5,000 settlement, but decided to stop hosting wedding ceremonies for all couples. The remaining business hasn’t been enough, Betty said.

"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.

“It was just so hateful and so awful and personally it took me down. I didn’t want to be on this Earth anymore. It destroyed me,” Betty said of the public response. “I was ready to quit. I wanted to… move out of the town. I knew that this gallery that we had built together would never be the same again.” 

Publication date: June 22, 2015