Iowa Gallery That Closed Following Homosexual Discrimination Lawsuit to Open as Church

Gortz Haus Gallery wsGRIMES, Iowa — An Iowa art gallery and bistro that closed this summer following the filing of a homosexual discrimination lawsuit against its Mennonite owners will reopen as a church this Sunday.

“If it can’t be a gallery anymore, this is the next best thing,” Betty Odgaard told the Des Moines Register. “We’re pretty tickled.”

As previously reported, up until August of this year, Odgaard and her husband Dick ran The Gortz Haus Gallery, a bistro, floral and arts shop, and wedding facility in Grimes, Iowa. The location formerly served as a Lutheran church for over 60 years, and had been a popular location for couples to tie the knot.

According to reports, Lee Stafford and his partner Jared visited the The Gortz Haus Gallery in 2013 to obtain information about using the facility for their upcoming ceremony. However, when Dick Odgaard realized that the men were seeking to use the premises to host a homosexual “wedding,” he informed them that the venue does not host same-sex ceremonies. Betty explained to local television station KCCI that the company policy reflects their Christian faith.

“That decision is based on our religious beliefs,” she stated. “And we want to honor that. We want people to know that is our stand, [which] comes from our faith and convictions, and I think we should stand by those [convictions] no matter what.”

Betty also told reporters that she advised the men that she and her husband would be willing to provide other services, such as offering flowers or cake, but that Stafford and his partner could not exchange vows on the premises.

“I would serve them in every other way; we simply don’t want to take part. … It just comes down to that final line of taking their vows in our facility,” she told reporter Billy Hallowell. “I do not hate these people and they have the right to do what they want to do under the law and in humanity.”

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After word of the incident at The Gortz Haus Gallery became public knowledge, the couple began receiving hateful emails.

“You are mean, rude, selfish, [expletive] racist sons of [expletive] from Hell,” one message stated. “[Expletive] your God. [Expletive] your religion.”

“Betty, you’re very old and almost dead,” another email read. “How do you both feel knowing that America and the world will be a better place without you?”

Stafford and his partner soon filed a formal complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, alleging that The Gortz Haus Gallery violated state law by declining to facilitate their same-sex ceremony. The Odgaards then filed a counter lawsuit against the Civil Rights Commission in an effort to avoid being forced to host same-sex ceremonies against their faith.

In December, the Odgaards agreed to a settlement, paying the homosexual men $5,000 for the incident and agreeing not to discriminate in the future—although the settlement also allowed them to deny any wrongdoing. They also dropped their counter suit.

The Odgaards additionally discontinued hosting weddings at their facility altogether out of concern that they would now become a target, but soon had to close because of financial hardship.

Betty Odgaard told the Daily Signal that in the months that followed the suit, the business suffered because of those who hated their Christian stance. She said that she fell into depression, for which she sought professional counseling.

“I’m a melancholy artist and no stranger to depression, but this took me down to the darkest I’ve ever been before,” she explained.

The Odgaards have since sold the building to Harvest Bible Church, an evangelical, non-denominational assembly that has been using a temporary meeting place for the past two years. The church which will hold its first service at the facility on Sunday.

Pastor Ryan Jorgenson told the Des Moines Register that he supports the Odgaards, who joined the congregation nine months ago.

“We fully support the stand that the Odgaards have made with their building and with their business,” he stated. “But our biggest thing by far is we want to be known as a church that loves Jesus. We preach and teach the Bible fully. We want to be a blessing to our community.”

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  • bowie1

    We wish the Odgaards well in their future. Hopefully the Harvest Bible Church parishioners can worship there in peace.

    • Josey


  • Now they can’t turn away anyone they want, and do it in The Holy Name of Jesus!

    • Josey

      If they refuse to repent of their sins and have not trusted in Christ as Lord and Saviour and If they are not living according to scriptures they would be right to turn them out for a shepherd is required by the Lord Jesus Christ to protect the flock God has entrusted unto him. Too many churches in the U.S. have failed shepherds who have not protected God’s flock from gossiping, heresies, rebellion, etc. The Church is for believers to come and be encouraged, edified, to fellowship with one another in truth, to meet the needs of that local branch. God wants faithful shepherds! Woe to those who run and leave the precious saints, the flock to the wolves, they will be held accountable. Those who need salvation can come to the altar but they should not be allowed to do as they please in the church of Christ.

    • Mary Waterton

      Just doing what Jesus would do. No unrepentant homosexuals in heaven (1-Cor 6:9-10). No unrepentant homosexuals in God’s houses of worship (1-Cor 5:1-13).

    • Harry Oh!

      That’s ok, Jesus will turn them, and you, away on the great day of judgement.

    • Diana

      Yes they can. We should realize there may come a time we have to hold fast to our faith and beliefs, and leave the consequences to God. Will we remain faithful in our obedience to God and be willing to suffer the humiliation of refusing to be independent? Or will we do just the opposite and say, “I will not cause other people to suffer”? We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but it will grieve our Lord. If, however, we obey God, He will care for those who have suffered the consequences of our obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the consequences with Him.

  • The Last Trump

    “You are mean, rude, selfish, [expletive] racist sons of [expletive] from Hell,” one message stated. “[Expletive] your God. [Expletive] your religion.”
    “Betty, you’re very old and almost dead,” another email read. “How do you both feel knowing that America and the world will be a better place without you?”

    Wow. All of THAT from “we don’t host samesex ceremonies here”!!?

    Yeah, that sounds like them alright, doesn’t it! The LGBT agenda pushing bullies “defending” and “promoting” (!?) love and tolerance.
    Attractive. As usual.

  • Rebecca

    Good for Odgaards 🙂

    • gizmo23

      It did cost them 5,000

  • Harry Oh!

    The Romans fed Christians to the lions and tried everything in their power to stomp out believers in Christ. That didn’t work out very well did it. Same thing will happen here. The pathetic Gaystopo thinks that they are winning some kind of battle against God, how delusional can you get?

  • Diana

    Article from 10/29: Homophobia?’ No, We Don’t Need a Checkup from the Neck Up for Believing What Christians Believe

    Get ready for persecution because the reprobates are in control pf psychology and are going to use it against us. What is so interesting is the Nazis first used psychologists against the people and the psychologists were the ones who invented the gas chambers and the SS just expanded the idea. It is on the way to America. Homosexuality to “normal” and “wholesome” while there is something radically wrong with Christians who think that it is wrong. There is nothing to stop them now as society is in a massive free fall with no morale bottom. Trouble is right before us as the reprobates are acting on their sinful delusions.

  • Frank

    they should not have paid the $5000 fine, but i understand that they did what they had to do to keep from losing more. If it were me, i would have fought to the end and allowed the State to inherit the crime committed by these two homosexuals, which is nothing less than thievery through the manufacture of a falsified lawsuit through deception (ie ‘anti-discrimination’ litigation authored in a way that does not acknowledge homosexuality as a religion, but instead attempts to define homosexuality as a race in order to make it seem as though it is impossible for a homosexual to control their sexual urges as all sexual urges, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are clearly voluntary).