An Indiana pizzeria that closed due to a backlash against the owners’ public comments that they would not cater a gay wedding has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from a crowdfunding campaign to help them recoup their losses.
The campaign on behalf of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Ind., was started just 17 hours ago with the stated goal to raise $25,000 to “to relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors’ stand for faith.”
The organizers, it turns out, sold their campaign short. At the time of writing, the campaign had raised $136,199 on the internet from 4,725 donors and climbing. It was started by producers of the Dana Loesch show, a conservative program on TheBlaze TV that interviewed the store’s co-owners. The money they’ve raised is equivalent to the sale of 10, 484 large pizzas sold at Memories for $12.99.
Memories was the first business to state publicly they would refuse a service to LGBT patrons after Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Crystal O’Connor, a co-owner of the pizzeria, told a local ABC news affiliate they would not serve pizza at gay weddings if asked.
The restaurant said Wednesday it was forced to shut due to the volume of calls and threats it had received. “I don’t know if we will re-open, or if we can, if it’s safe to re-open,” O’Connor said. “We’re in hiding basically, staying in the house.” Repeated calls to Memories by TIME went unanswered. On Thursday, Indiana lawmakers announced changes to the bill.
The demand for pizza at gay weddings in Indiana isn’t easily quantifiable. Dave Roberts, a driver at Aver’s Gourmet Pizza in the liberal town of Bloomington, Ind. said pizza wasn’t unheard of as a wedding meal. “It’s a more affordable alternative to filet mignon,” he says. But he added that Aver’s probably wouldn’t even be aware of whether its customers were celebrating a gay or straight wedding. “We wouldn’t ask. It’s a non-issue. Whoever wants to order pizza, we’ll take it to them.”