Nov. 15, 2013 at 3:42 PM ET
New Jersey waitress Dayna Morales was expecting a tip after serving a party of four on Wednesday, but instead, she found a hurtful handwritten note.
“I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and the way you live your life," the note read.
Deeply offended, Morales, who is a lesbian, posted the receipt to Facebook, and then sent it to LGBT group Have a Gay Day's Facebook page, where it racked up over 3,000 comments and quickly made its way around the web.
"I'm a server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, NJ and THIS is what happened to me today," she wrote, alongside the photo. "NEVER in a million years did I think this would happen...I am THOROUGHLY offended mad pissed off and hurt that THIS is what her kids will grow up learning and that I served in the Marines to keep ignorant people like them free."
Her post triggered an outpouring of support from people across the globe, and over $1000 in donations to a PayPal account that she set up at the urging of other Facebook users.
“I’m still rather overwhelmed,” she told TODAY.com on Friday. “I’m beyond thankful for it. I’m speechless.”
A former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, Morales plans on donating some of the money she's received to the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides aid to wounded servicemen and women as they transition from military to civilian life. She would also like to give back to an LGBT foundation, but hasn't chosen one just yet.
While the donations and messages of goodwill have arrived from countries as far away as South Africa and Germany, Morales, 22, has also found support closer to home. The restaurant where she works compensated her for the lost tip money right away, and has vowed to match the amount she donates to charity.
"We're a family here," general manager Byron Lapola told TODAY.com. "It's the most outlandish thing I've ever heard in my entire life. There's no reason for anything like that to happen."
Morales said the incident began when she introduced herself to the table of customers — a couple and their two children. She says the woman commented on her appearance by saying, "I thought your name was going to be Dan." But there was no further discussion of her sexuality during the meal, and Morales says she never even told them that she's a lesbian.
"I brushed it off and continued to serve them," she said. "No words were given back and forth. It was like a normal table."
She found the note after the customers had already left the restaurant. Appalled by the situation, Morales says she promptly brought it up to her manager, who "really took it to heart."
Morales isn't alone — a similar story made headlines last month, when a waiter at a restaurant chain in Kansas received a note from the diners he served condemning his perceived homosexual lifestyle instead of a tip.
Morales says she has intermittently worked as a server for about a decade, and that in all her years waiting tables she's never faced discrimination on account of her sexuality. And while she initially posted the photo of the receipt on Facebook just to vent her feelings to friends and family, she now hopes that her experience will remind people that gay discrimination still exists and shouldn't be tolerated.
"It's an issue that needs to be figured out," she said. "It's not okay to label people and treat them with disrespect, and this is still happening."