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Friday, September 21, 2018

Opinion

Religious freedom or discrimination: Pizzeria denies service to same-sex couple


A Walkerton, Ind. pizza business is following the original Indiana Religious Freedom Law and standing by its beliefs to refuse service to same-sex couples.

According to ABC 57 News, the O’Connor family, owner of Memories Pizza, are standing firm in their beliefs to deny catering to same-sex weddings.

“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” said Crystal O’Connor from Memories Pizza.

Memories Pizza is “a small-town business, with small-town ideals.” The pizzeria has been owned by the O’Connor family for nine years. Crystal said that Memories Pizza is a “Christian establishment,” and she and her family do not believe in the concept of gay marriage.

“We’re not discriminating against anyone; that’s just our belief, and anyone has the right to believe in anything,” said Crystal.

Crystal is correct in saying that “anyone has the right to believe in anything,” but individuals should not force their beliefs onto other individuals. The O’Connor’s refusal to service gay weddings is a subtle way of forcing their beliefs onto these same-sex couples.

The fact the O’Connor family is using their religious beliefs to reinforce their refusal of service shows that they are letting their personal lives come in the way of their professional life.

According to the Washington Post, the pizzeria had to temporarily close its doors after receiving a number of threatening phone calls and social media criticisms.

A comment on Yelp said, “STAY AWAY from this place. DISCRIMINATION should not be tolerated in America,” but even more concerning was a Twitter post that elicited police response.

According to ABC News, the tweet threatened to “burn down” the restaurant. The Walkerton Police Department completed an investigation of the threat, with Assistant Chief of police Charles Kulp saying in a statement that the case had been submitted for possible charging of harassment, intimidation and threats.

“The Walkerton Police Department is committed to extending professional police services to all in need, regardless of said person’s sexual, religious or political views,” Kulp said. “We encourage all to follow Indiana Laws and Statutes. We ask that all frustrations and rebuttals with Memories Pizza’s recent media statements remain within the law.”

The restaurant has also received support from many individuals, according to the Washington Post. Just as there were negative reviews towards the restaurant on Yelp, there were also a number of positive reviews, with a GoFundMe page even being set up for the pizzeria.

“Cue the Gay Mafia,” wrote one user. “The fact is, this business has the RIGHT not to provide any services to a ‘wedding’ event for gay or lesbian couples, something that goes against their religious beliefs.”

The fact that Memories Pizza is receiving such a large amount of support shows that discrimination against the LGBT community still runs rampant. It is a saddening and somewhat disturbing fact that two individuals who are planning their life together are suffering this form of discrimination in 2015.

According to ABC 57 News, the O’Connor family has taken great pleasure in Indiana’s Gov. Mike Pence’s signing of the Indiana Religious Freedom Law, also referred to as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

O’Connor’s father, Kevin O’Connor, said he believes that the negative backlash against the bill is unfair.

“That lifestyle is something they choose. I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual,” Kevin said. “Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they choose?”

It is important to note that an amended version of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed on April 2. According to CBS News, Pence signed a new version of the law which stated that it “cannot be used to discriminate against anyone, including gay and lesbian customers who feared the original law would allow businesses to deny them service.”

The O’Connor family has said they would service homosexual individuals, but it will be interesting to see how they take this amendment and relate it to their own business.

Opinion columnist Trishna Buch is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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