Indiana pizzeria's donations reach $842,387 in wake of anti-gay marriage backlash
Memories Pizza, the Indiana establishment, which sparked national outrage over its owner's anti-LGBT comments made Wednesday during a local news broadcast, has raised a whopping $842,387 in donations from supporters.
Following Indiana's contentious Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Walkerton, Indiana restaurant became the subject of harsh criticism after co-owner Crystal O'Connor said she would refuse to cater gay marriages.
"If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no," she told a local ABC affiliate. "We are a Christian establishment."
Following the backlash over the remarks, supporters of Memories started a GoFundMe campaign, and the owners of the pizzeria were flooded with donations from more than 29,000 people.
As of time of this Wrap publishing, the money continues to come in hard and fast, raising another $300,000 in just the last 24 hours.
The movement was started by Blaze TV contributor Lawrence Jones, who initially launched the campaign seeking $25,000 after appearing Wednesday on the network's Dana Loesch talk show.
"Producers Rachel, Allison and George discussed the situation with Dana, myself and head writer Ben Howe. We all agreed: this family needs help to get through this assault," Jones wrote in an update explaining his move to start the campaign. "The intent was to help the family stave off the burdensome cost of having the media parked out front, activists tearing them down, and no customers coming in. Our goal was simply to help take one thing off this family's plate as the strangers sought to destroy them."
O'Connor's anti-gay marriage comments drew backlash on social media and subsequently prompted owners to close the store Wednesday for safety concerns after receiving multiple threats online.
"I don't know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it's safe to reopen," O'Connor told TheBlaze TV.
But it seems publicly declaring faith-based prejudice against gay marriage is turning into a far more profitable business model than pizza.
According to Loesch's "The Dana Show," the pizza parlor will now work with a pro bono accountant.
Since TheWrap first wrote about the overwhelmingly successful fundraising effort on Thursday, the contributions have more than tripped.
"The total just keeps going up," Jones wrote. "Thank you for helping us do some good for this family who were scared and in hiding just 24 hours before this writing."
Since taking her hypothetical stand against gay couples looking to impress their wedding guests with a pizza buffet, O'Connor has appeared on Fox News to set the record straight: She doesn't hate gays.
"They are welcome in the store, anyone is welcome in the store, but it's against our belief to condone, to cater to their wedding - we're condoning that if we do that and that is against our religion," she said Thursday.
"We show no hatred toward them," she continued, but couldn't put a "stamp of approval" on same-sex weddings.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign "horrified" by support for "a small business that gained fame for no other reason than their public admission of a willingness to discriminate against other human beings" has raised a total of $0 for an LGBT organization of its choice and has since been scrapped.
"I am horrified at the mischaracterization of the true intent of the so-called 'religious freedom' laws at issue in Indiana, Arkansas and many other states," the now defunct campaign, read. "People are looking for legal means to deprive other people of societal rights. These proposed laws are tools of discrimination, plain and simple."
On Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence approved an overhaul of the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which sparked O'Connor's good fortune, in the first place.
Pence had asked lawmakers to clarify language in the law earlier this week as businesses and sports associations canceled conventions and governments banned travel to the state, and the state enacted protections based on sexual orientation.
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