“Charged with discriminating against a gay couple, the owners of another Christian family-run business are being forced to shut their doors…Betty and her husband, Richard, are the owners of Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa. In 2002, they purchased the 77-year-old stone church and transformed it into a bistro, flower shop, art gallery and wedding venue.
On August 3, 2013, a gay couple from Des Moines asked to rent Görtz Haus for their wedding. Because of their Mennonite faith, the Odgaards told the couple they could not host their wedding.
Within 24 hours, the couple filed a discrimination complaint through the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. “We knew that the business was going to be in trouble almost immediately,” Richard, 69, said. “We had to get rid of the wedding business to avoid another complaint and possibly a higher penalty.””
This couple, heartbroken and depressed over having to close their business, is not the only one that has had to close-up shop because of charges claiming “discrimination” toward LGBT individuals. Stories similar-to the Odgaards have been heard multiple times in recent years.
It is a dismal thought to think that so many business owners have been persecuted and/or shut-down because of their religious beliefs, but there is hope. There are people working hard to protect religious freedom and The Mississippi’s Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, is an incredible start.
The Mississippi Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, “protects from discrimination, those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, that sex is to be reserved for heterosexual marriage, and that gender is determined biologically and not up to the feelings of individuals.
The Alliance Defending Freedom legal team helped write the Mississippi law. “The sole purpose of this law is to ensure that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union,” ADF attorney Kevin Theriot explained.
The Daily Signal summarized the impact of this broad legal protection:
- Religious organizations, like churches, cannot be forced to use their facilities to celebrate or solemnize weddings that violate their beliefs.
- Religious convents, universities, and social service organizations can continue to maintain personnel and housing policies that reflect their beliefs.
- Religious adoption agencies can continue to operate by their conviction that every child they serve deserves to be placed with a married mom and dad.
- Bakers, photographers, florists and similar wedding-specific vendors cannot be forced to use their talents to celebrate same-sex weddings if they cannot do so in good conscience.
- State employees cannot be fired for expressing their beliefs about marriage outside the office, and individual state clerks can opt out of issuing marriage licenses so long as no valid marriage license is delayed or impeded.
- Counselors and surgeons cannot be required to participate in gender identity transitioning or sex-reassignment surgeries against their faith and convictions while guaranteeing that no one is denied emergency care or visitation rights.
- Private businesses and schools, not bureaucrats, get to set their own bathroom, shower, and locker room policies.”
As of now, the injunction on this bill has been lifted by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.