Monica Schipper/Getty Images
Monica Schipper/Getty Images
George Takei's husband Brad Altman may hail from Phoenix, Ariz., but according to the famous Star Trek star, the couple may not be returning to his partner's home state anytime soon.
The 76-year-old actor has penned a scathing letter in which he slammed Arizona's recent anti-gay bill, dubbed a religious freedom bill by conservative lawmakers, which essentially allows any business owner who is asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays.
The Arizona Legislation gave final approval to the bill on Thursday evening, which has been met with a serious amount of backlash. Similar religious legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona is the only state to have passed the controversial bill.
"Congratulations," Takei begins in his takedown. "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."
According to ABC News, the bill allows any business, church or individual to cite the law as a defense against any action brought by the government or any person claiming discrimination. In addition, it also allows the business to seek a ban once they prove their actions are based on a sincere religious belief.
"Kansas tried to pass a similar law, but had the good sense to not let it come up for a vote," Takei continued. "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."
He continued, citing his personal ties to Arizona while detailing the dangerous implications of the bill.
"This bill also saddens me deeply," he wrote. "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," he explained. "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."
But Takei isn't the only one firing back at the Arizona legislation. Restaurants have shown their support for the gay community with silly signs which have been posted to social media. "Funny how just being decent is starting to seem radical these days," the pic, courtesy of Rocco's Chicago Pizzeria was captioned on Facebook.
Humorous protests aside, Takei reminds us all that there are serious economic implications of the polarizing legislation and drives his point home as he concludes his missive.
"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," he insisted. "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."
He concluded: "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."
Bottom line: money talks.
What do you think of Takei's letter? Tell is in the comments.