The ink from Governor Mike Pence’s signature may still be wet on the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” but a small-town pizza shop in Indiana has become the first to publicly and officially announce its refusal to serve LGBT individuals under the new law.
One business gladly embraced the RFRA, which gave it a long-awaited chance to claim the right to discriminate based on the proprietor’s warped and limited world view.
“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Crystal O’Connor of Memories Pizza in Walkerton explained to ABC57. O’Connor’s family, alleged Christians, have owned and operated Memories for nine years.
“We are a Christian establishment,” O’Connor said in defense of her bigotry, though she refuses to admit that by not serving LGBT individuals she is discriminating:
“We’re not discriminating against anyone, that’s just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything.”
She explained that the RFRA, legislation her family stands behind implicitly, simply allows people with religious beliefs like hers — that LGBT individuals do not deserve to be married — the freedom to deny service based on those beliefs. But it’s not discrimination:
“I do not think it’s targeting gays. I don’t think it’s discrimination. It’s supposed to help people that have a religious belief.”
Kevin O’Connor, Crystal’s father, feels persecuted by the backlash he and others like him face for their support of a bill whose author admits intent to discriminate against the LGBT community.
“That lifestyle is something they choose. I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual. Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they choose?” the elder O’Conner complained.
The O’Conners say that they would never stop a gay couple or a couple of another religion from eating at their establishment — but as for catering weddings, the answer is a clear “no.”
Indiana’s legalized discrimination is proving a very costly for the state as numerous businesses, cities, and states have elected to enact a very real (and very free-market) opposition to the bigoted legislation. Indiana has lost $40 million after Angie’s List canceled its expansion into the state. Annual gaming convention Gen Con is considering holding its event elsewhere — at a cost of around $50 million to local businesses.
Hate is expensive — a lesson that one pizza shop may learn very quickly.
Featured Image via ABC57