An anti-gay ministry, formed by an Iowa couple who were told that they couldn’t discriminate against same-sex couples when renting out their wedding venue, has begun the process of placing billboards — they plan to place 1,000, if they receive sufficient donations to do so. This initial billboard is designed to appear as though it is quoting God — with Him apparently begging for support to make marriage only available to “one man, one woman” partnerships.
The first of the anti-gay billboards went up just over a week ago, in Durant, Oklahoma. The God’s Original Design Ministry shared a photo on their Facebook page.
In addition to the billboard, the ministry has designed a series of anti-gay fliers, and they’re calling on supporters to print them and place them on cars in church parking lots. (It’s not clear whether supporters are to target churches that have supported gay rights, or if any church will do. The ministry does not directly ask supporters to place the fliers on cars anywhere other than church parking lots, or to hand them out.)
Though the fliers sport half a dozen different designs, all are stark and simple.
The couple behind the anti-gay ministry appears to be collecting money on a number of platforms, including their own site through a PayPal “Donate” button, mail, and a Fund Me America page — where their backstory can be found.
According to the fundraising page, the ministry was started by Dick and Betty Odgaard. The couple owned an old stone church, which they operated as a flower shop, bistro, and art gallery. In 2008, they also added a wedding venue to the building. In 2009, same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa — and in 2013, the couple faced a discrimination complaint when they refused to host a wedding for a same-sex couple.
It has been said that the Odgaard’s decided to shutter their business rather than serve same-sex couples, but the couple’s own claim is that business dropped so dramatically as their anti-gay stance became known that they were forced to close.
Donations to the ministry through mail or by PayPal are not publicly visible, of course, but on their Fund Me America page, they’ve garnered only $153. (The ministry is registered as a 501(c)(3) charity.) Based on that minimal trickle of donations, and the amount of public dissent on their Facebook page, it seems unlikely the anti-gay ministry can really gather enough donations to place 999 more billboards.