Mennonites countersue gay couple for right to deny wedding

An Iowa couple with Mennonite beliefs has filed a countersuit against the Civil Rights Commission, claiming the state agency has no right to force them to host a gay marriage event.

Dick and Betty Odgaard, who oversee the Gortz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa, turned down a request from Lee Stafford and his partner, Jared, to host their wedding. They said they might provide flowers or a cake for the service, but allowing the couple to exchange vows on their premises was out of the question, Christian News Service reported.

Mr. Stafford filed a complaint with the state’s civil rights agency, accusing the Odgaards of violating the 2009 Iowa law that allows gay marriage. The Odgaards countersued, via attorneys with the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, Fox News reported.

“They did so because their religion forbids them from personally planning, facilitating or hosting wedding ceremonies not between one man and one woman,” the Odgaards’ suit says. “Publicly associating with a wedding ceremony that violates their beliefs would send a message to others who share their beliefs, including some of their employees, that those beliefs are untrue or unworthy of devotion, and thereby cause those others to sin.”

Mr. Stafford and his partner have found another venue for their wedding, Christian News Network reported.

 

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