Indiana: Lesbian Apologizes to Christian Pizzeria That Discriminated

Memories Pizza

While over $840,000 was raised to support the owners of a Christian pizzeria in Indiana that shut down after being threatened for saying that they would not cater same-sex weddings, a lesbian donated $20 to the cause, saying she wanted to apologize to the owners of Memories Pizza in Walkerton on behalf of the larger LGBT community.

After learning of the violent threats that were directed towards the O’Connors, (owners of the Christian pizzeria, that refused in a television interview to cater same-sex weddings because of their deeply held religious views), Courtney Hoffman, lesbian and owner of a small business, made a donation to the family’s fundraising page on GoFundMe and posted a heartwarming apology on behalf of the LGBT community along with it.

“As a member of the gay community, I would like to apologize for the mean spirited attacks on you and your business. I know many gay individuals who fully support your right to stand up for your beliefs and run your business to those beliefs,” Hoffman's online donation message stated. “We are outraged at the level of hate and intolerance that has been directed at you and I sincerely hope that you are able to rebuild.”

Hoffman went on to explain why she felt compelled to make a donation and apologize to the Christian family that did not condone her sexuality and lifestyle in an interview later. According to Hoffman, even though the O’Connors have a different worldview than her, as the owner of a small business herself, she understands that there can be certain events that a business owner may not want to participate in. She thus believes, all business owners must be allowed the right to refuse services in those situations.

“My girlfriend and I are small business owners and we think that there is a difference between operating in a public market space and then attaching the name of your business to a private event,” Hoffman, who runs a kettle corn stand for various festivals and carnivals, explained on The Jeff Adams Show. “If we were asked to set up an event at an anti-gay marriage rally, we would have to decline.”

She also insisted that compelling businesses to offer services for private events that they do not believe to be morally right, is wrong.

“We just feel like that is our right to decide what events our business associates with, and we feel that the right to choose what private events you associate your business with is a right that should be extended to everyone, even people we don't agree with,” Hoffman asserted. “That is just kind of how freedom works. That's really what got us talking about the pizzeria and thinking about this from business owner to business owner.”

Once the O’Connors’ interview was aired beginning April, showing Crystal O’Connor saying that her pizzeria would not serve same-sex weddings if asked to do so, Memories Pizza started to receive arson threats and death threats even from members of the LGBT community and supporters of it. Hoffman said that she was infuriated when she saw some of the messages that had been sent to the O’Connors from members and supporters of the LGBT community.

“Then we started hearing all of these threats of violence … toward this pizzeria. It just seemed so vastly different from the gay community that we know. The gay community that we know, knows full well what it is like to be condemned by living your life according to your beliefs,” Hoffman said. “The gay community that we know has fought for decades for us to be able to live our lives out-and-proud, without fear of violence or oppression. We know so many gay individuals that fully support the freedom to live according to your beliefs and feel that extends to everyone.”

During the interview, Hoffman also said that the anger exhibited by LGBT members and advocates stemmed from people’s tendency to react emotionally when other people do not share the same opinion. She urged the world to understand that simply because people hold different views because of their personal beliefs, does not mean they feel maliciously towards those that do not agree with them.

“Just because someone has a different belief or a different opinion, that doesn't mean that they are necessarily malicious. They just hold a different worldview, and I think there is a tendency to group people together. They are either one thing or another thing. You are either a Christian or you are gay, but you can be both,” Hoffman said. “I just think that there is a lot of room for differences and similarities between all of these businesses and all of these communities. If we can remember that differences don't mean malicious [intent], and try to find what we have in common, and try to find the 'ands' instead of the 'ors', maybe we can move beyond the threats of violence and have open discussion on the things that we agree on.”

The Blaze

Since the fundraising page was set up for the O’ Connors only a month ago, as much as $843,387 has been raised by 29,194 people. Most of the amount was raised within the first week itself. After being shut for a week, Memories Pizza reopened for business on April 7.

Photo Credits: WNDU 16

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