The Christian owners of a flower shop, restaurant and wedding venue in Grimes, Iowa, who faced a contentious legal battle following their refusal to host a gay couples’ ceremony, are closing up shop, and issuing a warning to wedding-related business owners: that they, too, could soon face the same challenges.
Despite their business misfortune, there’s an ironic twist: The chapel’s current building will likely become home to a church — a development that Betty and Dick Odgaard, owners of Görtz Haus Gallery, are welcoming.
The husband and wife duo said that they have been operating the wedding business for 13 years, but after media coverage following their decision to turn away gay couple Lee Stafford and his fiancé Jared Ellars in August 2013, challenges abounded.
They recently decided to stop hosting wedding ceremonies for all couples rather than abide by a government mandate that they accommodate same-sex ceremonies, but the remaining business activity hasn’t been enough to keep the doors open.
“Our case had everything to do with our closing. Once we could no longer host weddings it was only a matter of time,” Betty Odgaard told TheBlaze in an email on Sunday. “The lunch business had already decreased substantially due to boycotts and all the slander and black eye now on Görtz Haus.”
She said that recent staffing issues were the final straw, giving her and her husband, Dick, “the final nudge” to make the heart-wrenching decision to close up shop.
“The writing has been on the wall for quite some time and we hung on as long as we could,” she said. “This day had to come but it’s just so hard to say this is it, it’s over.”
Despite making the tough decision, Odgaard said that she and her husband “will be fine,” though she offered a warning to others to be aware of what has happened to both her business and her family.
“This happened to us and if you are in the wedding business it will happen to you — it’s just a matter of when,” she said. “If our justice system doesn’t put something in place soon it will become increasingly difficult for Christians to be in business and stay true to the gospel and God’s laws.”
Odgaard continued, “This should not be happening in America when our religious freedom has already been bought and payed for. Let’s not let this happen and everyone who agrees needs to let their voice be heard loudly and proudly.”
Looking back at the legal challenge that she and her husband faced over refusing the gay couple’s nuptials, Odgaard said that they wouldn’t do anything differently when it came to the denial, though she said that she would have taken the time to stand up for her rights earlier rather than “[sitting] on the sidelines watching.”
As for the future of the building where the Görtz Haus Gallery operates, Odgaard said that there might be a silver lining to their story, as the location — which was once a church — might once again become a house of worship.
“If all goes as planned it will be a church again — and as it so happens, the church we attend,” she said. “Ain’t [God] awesome?”
Betty and Dick Odgaard previously told TheBlaze about how the controversy impacted them.