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Iowa couple aims to buy 1,000 billboards to denounce same-sex marriage


Iowa couple aims to buy 1,000 billboards to denounce same-sex marriage

A legal fight ensued after Betty and Richard Odgaard refused to allow same-sex marriages at their venue, prompting the Iowa couple to close their business.

Now, the Odgaards are turning to billboards — 1,000 of them, to be precise — to promote their belief that marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman.

The Mennonite couple, who lives in Grimes, Iowa, stopped hosting weddings at their venue, the Gortz Haus Gallery, in January, following a settlement with a same-sex couple who had filed a complaint against them for refusing to host their wedding on religious grounds. Six months later, the couple closed the gallery altogether, which also included a bistro.

As part of the settlement, the Odgaards agreed not to discriminate against anyone seeking to be married at their venue, which hosted 15 to 20 weddings annually, based on sexual orientation. Rather than having to host same-sex weddings, they chose to cease hosting any nuptials, the Odgaards told the Des Moines Register.

At the time, Betty Odgaard told the Register, “Our faith hasn’t changed. Of course, it’s kind of a crushing blow because that’s a major part of our business and weddings are so absolutely gorgeous in that place.”

After shutting down their venue, the couple founded God’s Original Design Ministry, a nonprofit organization that aims “to advance Christian teachings, Biblical ordinances and natural laws as God intended.”

The Odgaards plan to pay for the 1,000 billboards using donations made to the group. The first one went up last week in Oklahoma.

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