POLITICS

Ted Cruz Applauds Iowa Couple Who Refused To Host A Same-Sex Wedding

"Dick and Betty inspire me."


WASHINGTON -- GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came out with a new video on Tuesday, highlighting a straight Iowa couple who operates a wedding services business and refused to do business with a same-sex couple. It's a marked contrast with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who used her presidential launch video to draw attention to same-sex couples who were about to get married.

While some GOP candidates have tried to avoid talking much about same-sex marriage, Cruz has been more vocal in his opposition. In April, he introduced legislation to push a constitutional amendment protecting states that barred marriage equality. And after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide last month, Cruz said that states could essentially just ignore the justices' decision. 

Dick and Betty Odgaard own and operate Gortz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa, a former church that they converted into a bistro. In 2013, they turned away a same-sex couple who inquired about renting the wedding venue. The Odgaards, who are Mennonites, refused to work with the two men because of their sexual orientation.

Iowa added sexual orientation and gender identity protections to its civil rights code in 2007, and legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. 

The couple whom the Odgaards turned away quickly filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. The Odgaards agreed to pay them $5,000 and to stop discriminating against same-sex couples. In order to comply, they decided to stop providing wedding services altogether, rather than start serving gay couples.

"Dick and Betty inspire me," Cruz says in his video, highlighting "their incredible journey fighting to defend religious liberty."

"We have no hatred toward gay people," Betty insists.

In contrast, Clinton prominently featured same-sex couples in her launch video, a major step for a candidate who didn't come out in favor of marriage equality until 2013. 

 

"We should ban discrimination against LGBT Americans and their families so they can live, learn, marry and work just like everybody else," Clinton said in her announcement speech on June 13.

None of the Republican presidential candidates support same-sex marriage, although there is growing acceptance within the party for gay rights, especially among younger Republican voters. 


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