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Indiana Pizzeria That Supported 'Religious Freedom' Law Reopens After Raking In More Than $800,000

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 13, 2015 8:35PM

Memories Pizza, the small restaurant in the one stoplight town of Walkerton, Indiana that created a national firestorm of attention after its owners showed support for the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law by saying it would refuse to cater a gay wedding, has reopened. Shortly after Governor Mike Pence signed the original bill, which essentially allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, Kevin and Crystal O’Connor created controversy by saying that while they wouldn’t refuse service in their family's establishment to LGBT folks, they would refuse to cater a wedding.

After a national outcry over the bill, which included scores of businesses and even some other states saying they would boycott Indiana, Pence amended it. Meanwhile, when justifiable criticism and mockery of the O’Connors and their establishment sadly/unfortunately/stupidly turned into death threats, they were forced to close their restaurant, supposedly “indefinitely.”

Thanks to a leg up from the conservative media machine, the O’Connors quickly became folk heroes to everyone who believes that discrimination against the LGBT community by businesses under the guise of “religious freedom” is a constitutionally protected activity. The Blaze set up a crowdfunding campaign, and the O’Connors raked in more than $842,000 in a handful of days from nearly 30,000 contributors. The windfall of national attention and money allowed the O’Connors to reopen the pizzeria late last week. Kevin, who was able to drown out any criticism by stuffing his ears full of wads of cash, told the Daily Mail “I am overwhelmed and not just because of the money, but the positive feedback that we have met with.”

The 61-year old father of eight, part of one of the most oppressed and misunderstood classes of Americans— straight, white, Christian men— wistfully wished for a rapidly disappearing America that once respected and encouraged bigotry and discrimination:

“I don’t hate these people. They are just angry. I am not really sure what they are so angry about. So many things today are topsy turvey. What used to be wrong is now right and what used to be right is now wrong. I don’t hold anything against them. ‘When this country was founded it was a Christian nation and those were the rights given to us by the founders and before that by God. People just don’t want you to have those rights any more.”

Kevin said he wasn’t homophobic, telling the Mail he wouldn’t refuse service to gays if they came into his restaurant, but he was simply defending the institution of marriage, pointing toward the slippery slope between gay marriage and state-sanctioned dendrophilia:

“They are more than welcome to come in and eat. That is not what is about. We believe that it is not right for a man to marry a man and for a woman to marry a woman. People could end up marrying trees…come on!”

The O’Connors told Fox News’ Sean Hannity they plan to make improvements to the restaurant, but also “want to give back somehow,” and the consulting from their new financial advisor Ed Butowsky, a wealth manager and “investologist” has been great. Butowsky told the Mail that though nothing has been decided and they plan on giving charities some money, they’ll also donate some of their funds to Baronelle Stutzman. Stutzman, a Christian woman who owns a flower shop in Washington state, was the target of a lawsuit and fined $1,000 after she refused to provide floral arrangements to a gay couple. Stutzman has raised more than $162,000 so far to pay for the additional $1 court fee and her subsequent appeals.

Meanwhile, there are always groups doing good in this world that could use donations such as Project Fierce, an organization looking to reduce LGBT homelessness in Chicago and Black and Pink, which supports LGBT prisoners.