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Indiana pizza shop that refused to cater gay weddings closes, years after GoFundMe to save it

A northern Indiana pizza shop has shut down, years after owners faced the national spotlight for a discussion on religious freedom. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana has shuttered its doors for good, years after  controversy over their refusal to cater gay weddings.

The shop shut down temporarily in 2015 after facing backlash from an interview with owner Kevin O'Connor, who told a local television station that while gays are welcome in his restaurant, he would not cater a gay wedding due to his Christian beliefs.

Mainstream media picked up the story and social media lit up with views from all sides.

Police stepped up patrols around the business and asked the St. Joseph County prosecutor to investigate after a local women tweeted: "Who's going to Walkerton with me to burn down Memories Pizza."

O'Connor closed down his business for eight days following the incident in 2015, and then reopened saying he hadn't changed his stance, stating, "I'd do the same thing again. It's my belief. It's our belief. It's what we grew up on. I'm just sorry it comes to this because neither one of us dislike any of those people. I don't hold any grudges."

In response, former TheBlaze TV host Dana Loesch helped launch a GoFundMe page with contributor Lawrence Billy Joness III to save the business, raising over $840,000. After the launching the fundraiser, Jones described the reaction he received: "Death threats. Attacks on my family. Then you go through the whole thing about being a black conservative."

Jones said the fund even received donations from LGBT supporters, adding, "A lot of people in the gay community are upset, but then there are a lot of people in the gay community who gave to this cause of freedom."

But Indiana's South Bend Tribune reported on Monday that Memories Pizza has a sign in its window saying that it closed last month. Reporters have been unable to reach the O'Connor family for comment.

Several US small businesses have faced high-profile complaints in recent years for refusing to provide services for same-sex marriages citing religious beliefs, with some shutting their doors to avoid further controversy or fines.

This year, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case in which a Colorado baker refused to sign a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

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