George Takei has threatened to boycott Arizona over controversial legislation, which has been criticized as discriminatory. Last week, the Arizona senate approved SB 1062 in a 17-13 vote. The legislation allows business owners to refuse service to homosexuals.
Supporters of the bill argue that it protects business owners’ freedom of religion. It also prohibits prosecution of of those who refuse service to gay customers. The legislation was proposed amid numerous lawsuits, which accuse business owners of discrimination.
As gay marriage is now legal in numerous states, homosexual couples have sought the services of bakers, florists, clergy, and decorators, in preparation for their weddings. Several couples were devastated, as they were refused service because of their sexual preference.
The business owners argued that providing their products and services to gay couples is against their religious beliefs. However, many couples filed lawsuits, claiming unlawful discrimination.
The civil cases prompted lawmakers to develop legislation, which will protect business owners. Although supporters insist the legislation is about religious freedom, critics argue that the laws are simply meant to “keep gays away.”
As SB 1062 was approved by the Arizona senate, the final decision rests with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Star Trek star George Takei has strongly criticized the legislation. In an open letter, which was posted on his blog, the actor and activist has threatened to boycott the state if Governor Brewer signs the bill:
“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.”
In the letter, George Takei refers to prior legislation that was equally controversial. In 1989, the state of Arizona formally refused to recognize Martin Luther King day as a holiday. As discussed by Takei, the decision “was a $500 million mistake,” as the decision prompted the NFL to move the Superbowl to California.
Takei said the legislation is specifically disappointing, as he and his husband Brad Altman spend a lot of time in Arizona. The couple has friends and family who live in the state and often vacation in Show Low. Takei also mentions the fact that Brad is a native of Phoenix.
Although the legislation has received stark criticism from numerous sources, George Takei’s open letter is certain to make an especially strong impact. The actor and activist has millions of fans worldwide.
[Images via Wikipedia]