Indiana Pizza Shop Closed Over Anti-Gay Law Backlash

Photographed by Sara Haile.
At the center of the furor around Indiana's new law are questions of religious liberty, gay rights...and a pizza shop. The owner of a local restaurant called Memories Pizza told a reporter that, as a Christian, he wouldn't cater a same-sex wedding — unleashing a firestorm of criticism online and locally. Now, the restaurant has closed temporarily, as the debate over the law rages.  This morning, Indiana lawmakers announced they were adding language to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. “Hoosier hospitality had to be restored,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma by way of an explanation at a press conference this morning.  The law, which was signed by Governor Mike Pence on March 26, would allow private businesses to refuse service to LGBT people on religious grounds — as well as potentially discriminate against other groups. It prompted a national outcry, including canceled events and boycotts of local businesses, like the aforementioned Memories Pizza.  The shop features the kitschy Americana one might expect from a neighborhood slice joint: checkered floors, red booths, and ‘50s schtick. But, a sign on the door gives off a different kind of vibe. “Every day before we open the store, we gather and pray together,” it reads. The religious devotion baked into the establishment extends to potentially refusing to cater to LGBT customers. “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Crystal O’Connor — one of the pizza parlor’s proprietors — told ABC 57 on Tuesday night.  After a barrage of criticism online, over the phone, and in person, the shop has shut its doors.  It’s important to keep in mind that Memories Pizza has not actually refused service to any LGBT couples, but, when discussing the initial revision to the law, management suggested that they would. But, it's not all bad for Memories. The shop has garnered a windfall of support from from like-minded individuals. More than 5,000 people have contributed to a GoFundMe page called “Support Memories Pizza.” Advocates initially set it up to raise $35,000 to offset losses from any closure. So far, donations have reached $205,460, surpassing a new goal of $200,000. That's a lot of dough.

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