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  • 10/17/13 10:14 PMWedding venue turns away same-sex couple | Local News - KCCI Home

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    By Marcus McIntosh

    Wedding venue turns away same-sex couple UPDATED 6:14 PM CDT Aug 06, 2013

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    GRIMES, Iowa — After the Hotel Pattee closed, an Iowa couple scrambled to find a new place for their wedding. They thought Gortz Haus in Grimes was the place, until they said the owners found out they were a same-sex couple.

    "It's not from an angry place," said Betty Odgaard, owner of Gortz Haus.

    Odgaard said she is a Mennonite. She said telling Lee and Jared they would not be able to wed at the business she and her husband operate was a stand 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," said Odgaard.

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    Lee Stafford said he is not convinced the decision is based on religion.

    "The fact is he 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," said Stafford.

    After the Hotel Pattee suddenly closed, Lee and Jared were one of the couples left suddenly without a place to hold their wedding.

    Stafford said that after finding Gortz Haus, he took his fiance on a tour and thought everything was going well.

    "At the end of the tour, he asked us if this was going to be for a gay wedding and I said, 'Yes it is.' He said, 'I can't take your money and I don't do things for free,'" said Stafford.

    Word of the story has spread fast on social media.

    Odgaard said she has received hateful, hurtful and threatening emails.

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