US: Couple face lawsuit over gay wedding venue refusal

A couple in the US state of Iowa are facing legal action and have received threatening phone calls because they refused to rent out their wedding venue to a gay couple.

Dick and Betty Odgaard said they could not allow Lee Stafford and his partner Jared to use their business, the Gortz Haus Gallery, for a same-sex wedding because of their religious beliefs.

But the men have filed a legal complaint to the Iowa Human Rights Commission, claiming they have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Bombarded

Now Mr and Mrs Odgaard are being bombarded with up to 60 emails and 30 phonecalls per day about the incident.

Many are hateful in nature, including one which said: “How do you feel, knowing that America, and the world, will be a better place without you?”

They have also suffered financially as a result of their stance, as other couples have cancelled ceremonies at the venue.

Faith

Betty Odgaard, who is a Mennonite, said she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

She said: “That decision is based on our religious beliefs. We want to honour that.

“We want people to know that is our stand that comes from our faith, our convictions.

Stand

“I think we should just stand by that no matter what”.

She added, “it just comes down to that final line of taking their vows in our facility”.

Gay marriage has been legal in Iowa since 2009.

Jail

A Christian baker in the US state of Colorado was threatened with a possible jail sentence because he declined to make a cake for a gay wedding.

At the time of the incident last year, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was a criminal offence in the state.

And in Washington, a Christian florist faced an arson threat and two law suits after she refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

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