George Takei Takes on Arizona: Calls for Boycott of Arizona Business Over Anti-LGBT Law
George Takei is taking on the state of Arizona. Calling for a boycott of Arizona business over anti-LGBT legislation just passed by the state assembly.
George Takei is best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the television series Star Trek. He also portrayed the character in six Star Trek feature films and in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. More recently, Takei has become a popular internet icon with millions of Twitter and Facebook followers. Over the past several years, Takei has become a prominent LGBT rights activist, championing causes throughout the US and the world.
In October 2005, Takei revealed in an issue of Frontiers magazine that he is gay and had been in a committed relationship with his partner, Brad Altman, for 18 years. He married Altman in September 2008.
Takei is no stranger to adversity. In 1942, Takie’s family was one of the thousands of Americans of Japanese descent forced to live in internment camps for the duration of the war. His family was transferred to several camps throughout World War II before he and his family returned to Los Angeles at the end of the war.
Now it seems Takei is taking on the state of Arizona, where the legislature recently passed a bill, SB 1062, that now awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. The law would allow businesses to reject gay and lesbian customers, employers to skimp on equal wages for its female employees, and for individuals to break contract obligations – all under the guise of religious freedom.
If the “turn away the gay” bill becomes law, be ready to face the fire, Arizona.
Congratulations. You are now the first state actually to pass a bill permitting businesses–even those open to the public–to refuse to provide service to LGBT people based on an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” This “turn away the gay” bill enshrines discrimination into the law. Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us.
Kansas tried to pass a similar law, but had the good sense to not let it come up for a vote. The quashing came only after the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other traditional conservative groups came out strongly against the bill.
But not you, Arizona. You’re willing to ostracize and marginalize LGBT people to score political points with the extreme right of the Republican Party. You say this bill protects “religious freedom,” but no one is fooled. When I was younger, people used “God’s Will” as a reason to keep the races separate, too. Make no mistake, this is the new segregation, yours is a Jim Crow law, and you are about to make yourself ground zero.
This bill also saddens me deeply. Brad and I have strong ties to Arizona. Brad was born in Phoenix, and we vacation in Show Low. We have close friends and relatives in the state and spend weeks there annually. We even attended the Fourth of July Parade in Show Low in 2012, looking like a pair of Arizona ranchers.
The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear.
So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.
And maybe you just never learn. In 1989, you voted down recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday, and as a result, conventions and tourists boycotted the state, and the NFL moved the Superbowl to Pasadena. That was a $500 million mistake.
So if our appeals to equality, fairness, and our basic right to live in a civil society without doors being slammed in our face for being who we are don’t move you, I’ll bet a big hit to your pocketbook and state coffers will.
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