Two small American businesses that refused to serve gay clients have hit the jackpot after received over a million dollars in donations.
Conservatives have came to the rescue of Barronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist in the state of Washington, who was fined $1,000 for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding in 2013.
She’s insisted that she would rather go out of business by breaking the state’s anti-discrimination law than act against her religious beliefs.
A Go Fund Me campaign has now raised $124,522 (and growing) in donations to support Stutzman and her Arlene’s Flowers business.
Family-run Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana also came under fire after its Christian owners told the press that should they ever be asked to cater a gay wedding they’d refuse.
The hypothetical question was in connection to that state’s recent religious freedom bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse to serve customers if doing so was against the owners’ religious beliefs.
The law has since been amended, but Memories said that it had to temporarily close its doors after it was inundated with critical phone calls, threats and an onslaught of online comments.
A crowd funding campaign was also launched to “relieve the financial loss endured by the proprietors’ stand for faith,” which raised an astonishing $842,442 worth of pledges.
“God has blessed us for standing up for what we believe, and not denying Him,” Memories Pizza’s Crystal O’Connor told Fox News (watch below).
She insisted that her family does not hate gays. “All we can do is pray for them, and truly, we’re not really angry at them. We’re sad for them. Very sad,” she said.
Memories Pizza’s Crystal O’Connor
Surprisingly, one of the people who donated money to the pizzeria was a lesbian woman, Courtney Hoffman.
She wrote on the Go Fund Me page: “As a member of the gay community, I would like to apologise 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 according to those beliefs,” Hoffman said.
She defended her stance on The Jeff Adams Show, saying that she and her girlfriend, who run a small business, would also like the freedom to refuse to serve anyone who violates their personal beliefs.
“If we were asked to set up at an anti-gay marriage rally, we would have to decline,” she explained. “We feel that’s our right to decide what events our business name is associated with… That’s a right that should be extended to everyone.”
As same-sex marriage becomes increasingly accepted in the US, religiously conservative Americans are responding with so-called religious freedom legislation.
According to the ACLU, 24 laws have introduced in 15 states this year that could allow businesses and individuals to use their religious beliefs to discriminate.