A New Jersey waitress who served in the Marine Corps for over two years told CNN Friday she is now getting tips from all over the world after she says a family refused to tip her because she is gay.
“I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with what your lifestyle and how you live your life,” a family member wrote on the receipt for $93.55 at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, New Jersey.
“I was offended. I was mad at first, and then I was more so hurt,” 22-year-old Dayna Morales told CNN.
Morales, who did a tour with the Marine Corps between 2009 and 2011, said she has been “out open and proud for years,” but “never discussed with them (the family) anything; it was their pure assumption.”
“It’s disrespectful and it’s hurtful,” she said. “I feel bad for their children because that’s how they are going to be raised.”
She says the trouble began when she approached the table of four — a man, wife and two girls — at around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Morales said that when she introduced herself as Dayna and told them she was going to be their server, the older woman “looked at me and said, ‘I thought you were going to say your name is Dan.'”
Morales was so upset about the incident, she vented on Facebook, and the group “Have a Gay Day” posted her story on their Facebook page. The response was overwhelming.
“People have sent me tips from all over the world just to show support. I have had people from Germany to South Africa, Australia to the UK, San Diego, everywhere.”
Morales says that between the people who have called in to the restaurant to give credit card numbers, those who have mailed tips, or donated to a special PayPal account the restaurant set up, she estimates that she has received more than $2,000 so far.
She plans to donate the funds to the Wounded Warrior Project, and the restaurant plans to match the donations and give it to a local LGBT organization.
“It wasn’t for the money. I never planned on this. I just wanted to vent,” she said. “The purpose was to inform people it wasn’t OK.”
Morales, noting that gay marriage recently became legal in New Jersey, added, “It’s 2013. This shouldn’t be going on.”
The general manager of the restaurant, Byron Lapola, did not release the family’s names, adding that “we fully respect our guests’ privacy.”
Lapola posted support for Morales on the restaurant’s Facebook page:
“Dayna is one of our absolute best servers working here at Gallop. We as a team were deeply hurt by the events that transpired. I myself as the General Manager took it personal as my team treats each other like a family. I made sure that Dayna was compensated for the tip, as for emotionally I wish there was much more I could do. One thing I can say is that people of that woman’s kind business is not welcome here at Gallop, and I can assure you that if they decide to dine here again that they will be turned away.”