Gortz Haus, a bistro, art gallery and venue in Grimes, Iowa, has officially closed its doors due to declining revenue.
The owners, Richard and Betty Odgaard started losing money when they refused to host a gay wedding, then decided to quit hosting weddings altogether.
In 2013, the couple was forced to pay $5,000 to a gay couple that filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission after the pair wouldn’t host their same-sex wedding. They also agreed not to discriminate against same-sex couples and therefore decided to not offer wedding services to any gay or straight couples.
While their business shut down, their ministry God’s Original Design Ministry is in full swing. The Odgaard’s said they plan to erect 1,000 billboards advertising “traditional” marriage.
Right now, one billboard in Durant, Oklahoma has been put up. The Facebook page said, “One down and 999 to go for 1,000 points of light. Thank you and God bless.” It also said the billboard was 100 percent funded by generous donations.
Betty said the billboard is not a campaign for hate against the LGBT community.
“It certainly isn’t coming from a hateful place,” she said. “What I’m most frustrated with is that it’s viewed as being hateful. And that’s the last thing that I want to convey. It’s just that we want to hold up the Biblical view of marriage.”
Though many seem to support the couple, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz who is campaigning for the Republican president nomination, Donna Red Wing, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group One Iowa, said she doesn’t believe this will create much change.
“Clearly, Dick and Betty Odgaard are now a poster couple for the evangelical right,” Red Wing said. “I think that they have been encouraged to go in this direction. I’m sure there will be funding to help them reach their goal of hundreds if not thousands of signs.”
However, Iowa legalized same-sex marriage in 2009 and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld marriage as a constitutional right for all couples in June.
“I don’t think their highway signs are going to change the law,” Red Wing said. “The Supreme Court’s ruling is the law of the land, and a few or a thousand highways signs [are] not going to change that.”