The GoFundMe campaign started in support of Memories Pizza -- the Indiana restaurant whose owners incurred fierce online backlash after saying they would not cater a gay wedding -- stopped collecting contributions Friday after it raked in a cash haul of $842,592 in just two days. Calculated at a dollar per inch, that’s enough dough to make a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza more than 13 miles high.
Now an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights is attempting to one-up the fundraiser with a countercampaign called “Love Is Stronger Than Hate.” Launched on GoFundMe Friday, the campaign is seeking to raise $1 million to promote LGBT equality while proving that efforts to advance civil rights can win more support than those seeking to curtail them.
Jason Nguyen, the campaign’s creator, said in an email Saturday he plans to donate all proceeds to the nonprofit Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT-rights organization. “It’s now critical that the LGBT community and allies prove that discrimination against minorities has no place in modern society,” he said.
The effort has a long way to go, however. As of Saturday afternoon, it had collected only $235.
Backlash against Memories Pizza in Walkerton began after its owners, Kevin and Crystal O’Connor, said in an interview with a local news station that they support Indiana’s controversial new religious-freedom law, which critics say could open the floodgates to legal discrimination against gays and lesbians.
In the interview, the owners said they would not want to cater a gay wedding because same-sex marriage violates their Christian faith. “If a gay couple was to come and they wanted us to bring pizzas to their wedding, we’d have to say, ‘No,’” Crystal O’Connor told WBND-TV, the local ABC affiliate.
Opposition to the comments was so fierce that the O’Connors said they were forced to close the business. Late last week, Dana Loesch -- a conservative radio host for TheBlaze -- spearheaded a fundraiser for the O’Connors, which blew past its original $200,000 funding goal in just a few hours. Loesch announced Friday that the campaign was closed and that she and a financial adviser were now taking steps to transfer the funds to the O’Connor family.
As to why the campaign was halted, Loesch told International Business Times that the plan was always to close donations Friday at 6 p.m.
Indiana’s new law has attracted a groundswell of criticism from politicians, civil-rights advocates, celebrities and business leaders, with boycotts percolating.
Most recently, former NBA player Jason Collins, who came out as gay in 2013, told the Associated Press that the NCAA should avoid playing future Final Four championship games in states that do not protect LGBT rights.