George Takei, the openly gay actor who became a household name with his role in Star Trek, has joined multiple cities and states, churches, and companies in boycotting the state of Indiana over its new LGBT discrimination, or “religious freedom” legislation. On Thursday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) into law, despite a massive outcry across the country.
In an op-ed on MSNBC.com, Takei joins the growing chorus of voices united against the state of Indiana’s legalized bigotry.
“Gov. Pence shamelessly pandered to the right wing of his party, perhaps because he is eyeing a run for the White House,” Takei writes. “or perhaps because he simply does not understand that bigotry, cloaked as religious protection, is still bigotry.”
Takei says he is joining the call for a boycott to stop the “further erosion of our core civil values”:
I have called for a boycott of Indiana by companies, conventions and tourists, not only to send a clear message to Indiana, but also to help stop the further erosion of our core civil values in other parts of this country. Indeed, bills like those passed in Mississippi andIndiana are now pending in many other states. Their backers seek to convey to LGBT people that our human rights are not inviolate, and that we may, and will, be treated as second-class citizens. That is what lies at heart of this issue; those are the values at stake.
“I cannot help but think that if Christ ran a public establishment, it would be open to all, and He would be the last to refuse service to anyone,” Takei continued. “It is, simply put, the most un-Christian of notions.”
“The doors of a school or a restaurant or a business, held open to the public, must be open to all,” Takei said. “The days are over where some may be denied a seat at the table simply because of who they are – or in this case, whom they love. We cannot, and must not, march backward from where we have come.”
You can read Takei’s full op-ed, here.
While Pence protests that the new law is not legalized discrimination, proponents of the bill have openly admitted that the intent was to protect “religious freedom” against gay rights. “The focus has been on same-sex marriage because that’s the hot topic right now, but it goes far beyond that,” said State Senator Scott Schneider. “It’s important to have some religious freedom and protection.”
American Family Association of Indiana Director Micah Clark said in December of last year that the bill would allow small businesses to refuse service to gay couples based on the proprietors’ professed religious beliefs, and would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.
“The freedom of conscience bill is really about limiting government’s ability to squelch freedom of religion, conscience or speech,” Clark said.
Despite direct admissions by the bill’s author and those who lobbied for it that the bill would absolutely legalize discrimination against the LGBT community, Pence claims that the bill is absolutely, one hundred percent not about discrimination at all.
Despite the Governor’s assertions, the law specifically states that individuals who feel that their religious freedom has been threatened can find protection “regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”
We should heed Takei’s call to boycott and encourage others to do the same. The nation’s passionate defense of the rights of Indiana’s LGBT community and the growing economic backlash that Indiana has suffered will be taken as a serious warning by the other twenty-three states currently considering such laws. We should all boycott Indiana and help stop the spread of hate.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.