Last Thursday, Indiana governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which basically made it legal for business owners to refuse service to anyone who conflicts with their religious beliefs, such as the LGBT community.
Before the ink could dry on the bill, a firestorm of protests embroiled Pence as he stumbled his way through vague explanations and flimsy excuses for the RFRA.
Faced with mounting public pressure, the Indiana Republican legislative leaders announced today that lawmakers have reached an agreement to amend the “religious freedom” law so it’s not discriminating against LGBT customers—but this amendment is, for some, too little, too late.
Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind. was one of the first businesses to openly deny service to LGBT customers, with owner Crystal O’Connor saying, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no…We’re not discriminating against anyone, that’s just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything.”
That did not sit well with the Internet.
Memories Pizza endured a blitz of online (and in-person) protests so severe, the O’Connor family decided to close the business indefinitely. Although Memories Pizza is, for now, nothing but a memory, the biting reviews on Yelp are forever. But not everyone is dishing out one-star reviews. There’s actually a GoFundMe set up in support of the O’Connor family that has exceeded its goal of raising $200,000–and it did it in less than 24 hours. The mission of the campaign? “To relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors’ stand for faith.”
Hmmm. Okay, but this isn’t an issue of impinging on someone’s faith–this is an issue of outright discrimination.
Call us crazy, but now a happy ending seems like it could actually happen. Here’s how: Thanks to this narrow-minded fundraising effort, the O’Connors will have the cash to reopen, and when they do perhaps they’ll have learned some important lessons about acceptance and not alienating customers. Isn’t that something we can all believe in?