One Iowa couple has planned to put up 1,000 billboards promoting a message against same-sex marriage as a part of their ministry, called God's Original Design. Betty and Dick Odgaard previously ran an establishment called the Gortz Haus in Grimes, Iowa, that had to close its doors in June after business declined when the couple said it would not host same-sex ceremonies.
The couple announced in a Facebook post that the first billboard of a planned 1,000 total went up July 24 near Durant, Oklahoma. The billboard, described by the ministry as a "14' x 48' lighted beauty," proclaims marriage as one man plus one woman. "Please ... I need your help with this! -God," the billboard reads. The large display was completely funded by donations to the ministry, according to the Facebook post. "One down and 999 to go for 1,000 points of light," it read.
The ministry's website has a "donate" button and there is a Fund Me America page for God's Original Design as well. That page had raised slightly more than $300 as of Tuesday morning.
— Kevin Hardy (@kevinmhardy) August 3, 2015
The Odgaards decided to stop hosting weddings altogether at the Gortz Haus, which has operated as a wedding venue, art gallery, bistro and flower shop, after a complaint was filed under the state's anti-discrimination law, AOL reported. They ended up paying a $5,000 settlement in the anti-discrimination case and, with no weddings and declined business across the board, the couple eventually decided to close up shop, the Des Moines Register reported. However, they went on to form the God's Original Design ministry and were supported by a number of political conservatives, including GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz.
Betty Odgaard described the goal of their venture into billboards. "We hope with the billboards people will have drive-time epiphanies and in the privacy of their car the will have to think about this without anything else coming at them," she said, according to WOI-DT.
The comments section underneath the post announcing the billboard took on the fervor of the national debate surrounding the Supreme Court's June decision that allowed for legal same-sex marriage nationwide. Many posted against what they felt was an anti-gay message, while others backed the move as a stand for religious freedom.