Yesterday U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) released a video telling the story of Dick and Betty Odgaard, the Iowa couple who recently had to shut down their business as a result of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s efforts to force them to host a same-sex wedding ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs. The video highlights the Odgaards’ experience with government-sanctioned religious intolerance, as well as their reaction to being targeted. Cruz will host a special event in Des Moines, IA, next month featuring the Odgaards.
“It was devastating to hear that we were bigots, we were homophobes, we were haters,” Betty Odgaard recounts. “We just kept thinking, ‘they don’t know us.’ How can they be calling us all these horrible, horrible things when they don’t know what’s in our hearts? We don’t have any hatred toward gay people.”
As a result of the suit, the Odgaards stopped hosting weddings at their event venue, which all but destroyed their business, leading them to the decision to close their doors at the end of the summer.
“And that has been quite painful,” tells Dick Odgaard. “As a result of that, the business has declined. We just can’t support it. So we’re within — by the end of August we’ll be shutting our doors.”
New data show Americans are strongly opposed to government forcing business owners to violate their deeply held religious beliefs. Nearly three out of five people (59%) now say that businesses with wedding-related services should not have to provide those services to same-sex couples, an increase of seven percent from April.
“Our country was founded by people who risked everything for religious liberty, free of the government getting in the way,” Cruz tells the Odgaards in the video. “And I want to thank both of you, number one, for taking a stand. But number two, for telling your story.
“Your story is powerful. Your story is inspirational and inspires me, and it inspires millions of believers, believers of many faiths across this country who want to live in a land where we’re free to live out according to our faith and our convictions and it’s not second guessed by the government stepping in and saying, we don’t share your faith and we’re going to shut you down.”
Cruz will host a “Rally for Religious Liberty” in Des Moines, Iowa on August 21 at 6:30 pm CT. The event will take place at the Iowa Events Center and feature the Odgaards as special guests. Registration is open to the public here.