Monday, August 12, 2013

The Gortz Haus In Iowa and Grace Gardens In Texas Discriminate Against The Gays

As I’ve been saying, as the fight for marriage equality heats up, and as more and more places around the world, and here at home, begin legalizing same-sex marriage, we are going to see stronger resistance from those who want to use their so-called faith to guide law.

Like in Iowa, where, by the way, marriage equality is legal, Lee Stafford and his fiancé Jared Ellars had booked the Hotel Pattee for their wedding, but the venue suddenly closed. Lee and Jared scrambled to find a new place for their wedding, and came across the Gortz Haus in Grimes. The men toured the facility together, and at the end of the tour they were asked if the wedding was to be a gay wedding.

My stock answer is, “All weddings are gay affairs, aren’t?”

But the owner, Betty Odgaard, wondered if it was a ceremony for two men, and when Lee said ‘Yes’ she said ‘No’.

"It's not from an angry place," said Betty Odgaard, who says she’s a Mennonite. She says both she and her husband operate their business on religious principles. "That decision is based on our religious beliefs. We want to honor that. We want people to know that is our stand that comes from our faith, our convictions. I think we should just stand by that no matter what."
"The fact is [Odgaard] discriminated against us based on our sexual orientation. Iowa code says if you have a public accommodation, you can't discriminate based on sexual orientation."Lee Stafford
And you can’t and you shouldn’t, but, again, I have a solution to the problem: advertize your business as one that does not serve the LGBT community. Hang a sign, place an ad, post it on a website. Let everyone know that you will not allow your public business to be rented to gay and lesbian couples.

If you wish to discriminate for any reason, let us know, and we’ll go elsewhere; as I hope would everyone else.

That’s Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal, so I was shocked to hear that story. Not so much this next one … because it takes place in Texas.

Monico Ramirez and Jonathan Luna plan to get married in the near future and began looking for places to hold their reception. They contacted an event venue called Grace Gardens and asked about holding a reception, a party, not a wedding, but were denied.

“I went to check out Grace Gardens," Ramirez said. "It was absolutely beautiful, and we decided we wanted to have it there."

Ramirez and Luna began going over contract details with a staff employee, and that's when they informed the employee that they planned to have a same-sex reception.

"She just looked at us weird," Ramirez said. "She took us to a lobby, and told us she had to go speak with a manager, we stayed there 15 minutes. She came out and said 'I'm sorry guys, but we are not allowed to have any services for same-sex marriage.'"

Except the two men were not planning a wedding at the venue, they were planning a party, a reception. And even if they were planning some sort of wedding ceremony, what right does the business owner have in deciding who can and cannot use their facilities.

Open to the public means just that.
“When she told me that, I felt like somebody was throwing a bucket of water on me, it was kind of sad and embarrassing. I don't think it's right to be discriminated like that."—Monico Ramirez
Again, I say to Grace Gardens, hang a sign, put up a billboard, take out an ad where you say, plainly and simply, that while you are a public business you don’t cater to the gay public.
Let us know, and we’ll make a point of taking our money elsewhere.

That said, before some of you get your panties in a bunch and tell me that either place has the right to refuse services to anyone, just substitute the words gay couple with Black couple, Jewish couple, Baptist couple, Menonite couple. Then if you don’t have a problem with it, well, shut up anyway.

Or gnaw on this one: what would you think about a wedding venue, open to the public, but owned by a gay couple, who refused to cater straight weddings and receptions? Would that be right? Fair?

Discrimination is discrimination, in Iowa, in Texas, anywhere, and if you don’t take a stand against it, one day you might be the one turned away from a business and you’ll be asking for help and won’t get it. 


the dogs' mother said...

Be sure to budget for legal fees lest you get sued by your state. Or the ACLU.

anne marie in philly said...

can you imagine if a religious str8 couple were denied the use of a public facility? mass hysteria!

or if white people were denied the use of a public hotel owned by black people? mass hysteria!

ignorance must be conquered and stamped out.

My stock answer is, “All weddings are gay affairs, aren’t they?” - I LOVE THIS LINE!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the one in Iowa is on loose legal ground because state law already says they cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation.

And of course the bigots will scream persecution.

viktor kerney said...

Iowa is already getting their dose of crazy with Ted Cruz being there over the weekend

Bob Slatten said...


Cruz and the rest of the GOP clown car! said...

I'm with you! Discrimination is discrimination!

If you're not part of the solution you might be part of the problem.

Biki Honko said...

I just don't get how claiming its ok to discriminate on religious grounds. It doesn't matter what religion one is, if you are operating a business they must by law not discriminate, especially in states where equal marriage is the law. Gone are the days where writing discrimination into the private clubs bylaws was legal, so that option is out as well. Get a grip religious people, the law is against you.

Helen Lashbrook said...

A 'Christian' couple in UK have been judged to have illegally refused to allow two gay men to stay in their bed and breakfast. The law decided that they were in the business of providing accommodation to the public and it was wrong for them to discriminate against anyone, whatever their religious beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Anne Marie, actually whites were discriminated against by the thousands for years - Affirmative Action; quotas base on skin color.
Besides, being intolerant of their intolerance....?....

tomboygirl55 said...

Gays have the legal liberties they've wanted and isn't it interesting that gays are becoming what they've hated: bigots. In exercising their legal rights gays have become verbally abusive, spewing vile accusations. The law gives gays the right to be married. Does that mean gays can now dispose of moral integrity? Two men were denied a ceremony because they were gay. However offensive they found that personal decision of a Christian couple, instead of respecting that decision, they retaliated. Being told "no" is now so offensive that gays must put people out of business? What did they win? A lawsuit. Money. Fame in the gay community. In the end, they were still married, still had their ceremony, life moved forward for them. Again, gays are becoming what they hate. Everyone who doesn't accept gay lifestyles is blasted and labeled a homophobe. Even that's not accurate or justified. Few people have a "phobia" against homosexuals. Having a belief against something doesn't make one phobic. If that's true, then what are gays who rant against Christians or anyone who doesn't support their beliefs? Live your life in peace and integrity, enjoy your liberty and stop using it to hurt and destroy someone who isn't like you. Hm, that has a familiar ring to it.

Bob Slatten said...

Hey tomboygirl55
First off, you tool. This story, these events happened BEFORE marriage equality became the law of the land.

That said, this story TOOK place in Iowa when sames-ex marriage was legal and these gay men aren't bigots; they are asking for equal treatment under the law. Is equality NOT a Christian value?

And so it is NOT bigoted to ask to be treated as everyone else. We are a nation based on laws, NOT the Bible, NOT religion, so it is, and I'll shout it because you're too dim to get it, AGAINST THE LAW TO USE YOUR FAITH to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation.

But, hey, thanks for coming by in 2015 to comment on a story that was news TWO YEARS AGO!

Sit down and stop talking.

tomboygirl55 said...

See? you proved my point. Argumentative, nasty, name calling... doesn't matter if the story is two years old, the issue is obviously still relevant. The issue of law vs religion isn't going to go away. Gay people want straight people to show them brotherly love and acceptance but doesn't that work two ways? Doesn't seem to be many gay people acknowledging (graciously) another person's right to choose their lifestyle and beliefs--if it's religious. Yes, the law defends gay rights so does that mean gays are entitled to man their bulldozers and start plowing under anyone that believes differently? I'm actually not referring to the THE LAW, I'm talking about moral integrity. I'm talking about gays who demand and expect respect--yes! something they ARE entitled to!--but cannot give it in return. It would serve the gay community better to use the law wisely and not as platform to spread their hate of anyone who doesn't believe what they do. Love thy neighbor? Brotherly love? try that, instead of building walls between you and the people you despise. It's not a one way street. Just an opinion that should generate discussion, instead, brings out the haters. Oh, right, gays don't hate, don't name call, don't discriminate, don't reject people based on their personal beliefs, don't spew vile accusations.

Bob Slatten said...

First off, tool walk a half-step in an LGBT person's shoes and hear all the filthy names we've been called and then talk to me about being called names.

Better yet, just be quiet.

Secondly, we are a nation of LAWS, not Biblical laws, and everyone should be following the LAWS of this country, because, if we have things your way and use our religion-faith-beliefs as our standard, whose religion do we follow? Yours? Catholicism? Judaism? Islam? Buddhism?

I have no problem with anyone's faith-beliefs-religion, but when you use that to deny me equal rights UNDER THE LAW, then you are wrong. You don't like it, too bad; that's the law.

I can get married and I can ask a florist to sell me flowers, or a baker to bake me a cake, or an innkeeper to rent me a room, and if they use their religion to deny me that right then they are breaking the law.

Imagine walking in to an inn or motel or hotel, and the innkeeper saying they won't cater to you because they're atheists and you want a religious ceremony. Would you smile and say, "Gosh, golly, sorry we bothered you," or would bring out your Bible and turn into some kind of loon ranting about being denied the right to be a holier-than-thou tool?

Don't answer that, because I know you think your faith supersedes the laws of this country and will never ever get it, so just keep moving along.


Oops, my bad. The gay made me do it.