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].


  • So businesses owners voluntarily penalize themselves when they refuse to serve events they deem as going against their own religious beliefs. They aren’t taking the couple’s money and running. Look at it this way, they would rather adhere to religious beleifs than make some good change…sounds like they are standing their ground, and for that they should be applauded. There are so many other caterers/businesses that wouldn’t care and go for the profit, so it’s different than Jim Crow. There is not institutional discrimination. Most of these same people said they would still provide services for non- religious things like birthdays,etc. So the notion that they are totally “discriminating” is false. There will not be an epidemic of discriminators coming out of the woodwork if these religious laws stand. This is really a non-issue. A couple can move on to another bakery, caterer, photographer, florist,etc. and not hardly skip a beat.

    • Just like black people did in the 1950s — if a bakery refused to cater — they moved on and were happy about it and didn’t complain.

      • Actually, your analogy is a bit off. It would be more like if blacks were to go into a white owned bakery that normally serves blacks like everyone else, and requested a cake that said ” We Hate White People’s Values” and the owner refused. None of these businesses today have a “straights only” policy. They all have said that gays are welcome in their businesses, however, they refuse to be part of the promotion of a practice..in this case, gay marriage they find against their religious beliefs. This country was founded on the principle of religious freedom and non-interference by the state in religious matters…the First Amendment. No one is being hurt by the refusal of a cake, pizza, flowers, etc and the “discrimination” is not systematic ie. there are no laws forcing people to reject gays, so the matter is a bit petty. Let the Pro- gay activists go over to Saudi Arabia or some other Islamic country and champion the homosexuals who are being tortured and/or killed for being gay if they really want equal treatment….the freedom to live kinda beats having a wedding cake.

        • Nope not off in the 1950s — they were refused service right and left. Most of this was based upon religion. Some christian sects still teach that blacks were that color as a punishment from god.

          Oh and stop trying hide behind the dress skirts with muslims, they are just as bad as christians. You aren’t winning any points with that.

          • I know of nothing in the Bible where being black was considered a curse from God. If some churches are teaching that, then they are blasphemers…just like those churches that teach that Jesus is okay with homosexuality. Actually, many of the white slavery abolitionists were of Christian faith, as were many supporters of the Civil Rights era in the 60’s. Apples and oranges argument. Where are the lynch mobs, the fire hoses, and dogs? What? There are none? Yeah, different scenario…thanks for playing… try again.

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