In response to the Oct. 16 Gazette editorial “Pick the right fight”:
The Gortz Haus in Grimes is not a religious institution. It is a public accommodation, as defined by Iowa law. The business owners are welcome to hold their personal religious beliefs, but they may not use those personal beliefs to discriminate against any person for the many defined characteristics in Iowa’s Civil Rights law, which includes sexual orientation.
It is a fight worth picking because Iowa has a strong civil rights law that protects each of us. In Iowa, when a business provides a service open to the public, they are a “public accommodation.” As required by law, that business must accommodate all the public, regardless of the owner’s personal beliefs. What if a venue refused to accommodate a Jewish or African-American couple? What if the couple was Christian or white? Would the fight be worth it then?
It is a fight worth picking because of our country’s history. Religious beliefs and religious freedom have long been used to discriminate against other people. The First Amendment guarantees the right to choose or not choose a particular religion and to practice a chosen religion. It does not guarantee the right to use one’s personal religious beliefs to discriminate against other people.
Connie Ryan Terrell
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
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