Memories Pizza remains closed after the Indiana pizzeria's owners said they would not cater gay weddings due to their religious beliefs. The comments, which came shortly after the passage of Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), caused national outrage and were followed by threatening phone calls to the pizza restaurant's owners.
Co-owner Crystal O'Connor told TheBlaze TV, "I don't know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it's safe to reopen. We're in hiding basically, staying in the house."
On 31 March, O'Connor spoke to local news broadcaster WBND-TV and said the pizzeria would serve any customer regardless of sexual orientation. However, she added they would refuse to cater a gay wedding. "If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no. We are a Christian establishment," O'Connor said.
According to Time, the co-owner's comments caused social media users to flood the company's Yelp page with angry comments. The Walkerton, Indiana pizzeria's Yelp page had over 700 reviews, with comments pouring in from around the US.
Someone also bought the domain name www.memoriespizza.com and posted a messaged against discrimination, Time reported. "Don't discriminate. (It's not nice.)," the message read.
Despite the massive backlash, the pizzeria also received an overwhelming amount of monetary support online. According to the Washington Post, a GoFundMe page called "Support Memories Pizza" sought to raise $45,000 (£30,353.31) for the small-town pizza restaurant. The page has raised $53,288, with donations from 1,485 people in 13 hours.
"We're not discriminating against anyone," O'Connor told reporters. "That's just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything." The pizzeria co-owner added that she "definitely" supports the RFRA.
The controversial new act was signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence on 26 March and is set to take effect on 1 July. The RFRA, or Indiana SB101, "prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion". It has received national backlash from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups and several business corporations.
However, Pence was adamant the new religious freedom law does not allow for the discrimination against LGBT people and vowed to work on new legislation to "clarify the law". In a series of tweets and media appearances on 30 and 31 March, the Republican governor expressed his support for the law.
"There was never any intention in this law to create a license to discriminate," Pence told Fox News. "We will clarify this in the days ahead and will fix this and move forward."