Indiana pizzeria owners close doors, may leave town after gay-wedding attacks

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By Valerie Richardson –
The Indiana family under attack for telling local news that their pizzeria would not cater a hypothetical gay wedding is considering moving out of town even as Memories Pizza supporters raised more than $120,000 in less than 24 hours.

Pizzeria co-owner Crystal O’Connor confirmed in an interview with conservative talk-show host Dana Loesch that the family may leave the area after being bombarded with social-media criticism, national media attention and an arson threat for saying that restaurant would not serve a same-sex wedding if asked.

The Walkerton pizzeria, which has never been asked to cater a same-sex ceremony, closed shortly after the uproar began Wednesday, and may never reopen, Ms. O’Connor said.

“I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can,” said Ms. O’Connor in the late Wednesday interview, adding that she is afraid to leave her home.

Meanwhile, Ms. Loesch, her staff and contributors launched a crowdfunding site on Gofundme.com that had collected more than 4,000 donations as of midday Thursday. The funding is aimed at relieving “the financial loss endured by the proprietors’ stand for faith,” said a statement on the website.

“Nobody should ever have to suffer or suffer alone for their faith,” said Ms. Loesch during the late Wednesday online show on TheBlaze.com, who described the attacks as “persecution.”

Ms. O’Connor also told ABC57 that the pizzeria had never turned away a customer for religious reasons. The pizzeria appeared to be selected at random by the reporter, who said on Twitter that she “just walked into their shop and asked how they feel.”

Even so, critics accused the pizzeria of refusing to serve gay customers. Alex Berg, a producer for HuffPost Live, said in a Twitter post, “#MemoriesPizza is the first #Indiana business to publicly deny service to #LGBT people,” and then posted the pizza shop’s phone number.

“Boycott #MemoriesPizza of Walkerton, IN. They already declare refusal to gay customers,” said self-described LGBT activist Jason Lewis on Twitter.

The assistant police chief in tiny Walkerton, population 2,000, told ABC57 that the force has beefed up security in response to the outcry. Ms. Loesch said on Twitter that the family has received death threats.

A local high school golf coach was suspended pending an investigation after she asked on Twitter, “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?”

Indiana has been embroiled in a controversy over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by Gov. Mike Pence last week, which foes say creates a “license to discriminate” based on religion against gay and transgender people.

Mr. Pence, who was bombarded with national criticism after the bill-signing, has since asked the state legislature to clarify the law to ensure that it does not allow discrimination.

“Rather than allowing this family to simply have their opinion, which they were asked to give, outraged people grabbed the torches and began a campaign to destroy this small business in small town Indiana,” said Lawrence Jones, a television opinion contributor to the Dana Loesch show, in a statement on the crowdfunding page.

He added that, “All money, save whatever percentage GoFundMe takes, will be transferred directly to whichever bank account the O’Connors wish to use.”

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