Renowned Star Trek actor George Takei is calling on business owners and his legions of fans to boycott Indiana over a new law that could allow stores and restaurants to refuse service to LGBT customers on religious grounds.
He also elaborated on his opposition to the law in a Facebook post that has garnered more than 69,000 likes since Thursday:
I am outraged that Gov. Pence would sign such a divisive measure into law. He has made it clear that LGBT couples, like Brad and me, are now unwelcome in his state. The notion that this bill was not driven by animus against our community is belied by the record and frankly insulting. I will join many in demanding that socially responsible companies withdraw their business, conferences and support from his state and that LGBTs and our friends and supporters refuse to visit or do business with Indiana. It is a sad day for the Hoosier state, and indeed for the many good people of Indiana, for whom this law now stands as a terrible blight upon that state's reputation.
The Indiana law is the latest in a series of bills Republicans are proposing at the state level that could limit LGBT rights. Supporters insist the purpose of the bills is to protect religious rights, rather than allow discrimination against LGBT residents. But Georgia legislators tabled a religious freedom bill at the last minute after a gay-friendly Republican lawmaker successfully added protections for LGBT people, indicating that the bills really are in part about LGBT rights.
Two types of laws have passed since the beginning of 2015: a religious freedom law in Indiana that could allow anti-LGBT discrimination based on religious grounds, and a law in Arkansas that effectively nullifies municipalities' nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. Both laws, advocates say, could open LGBT people to discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, and other places that serve the general public).
Thirty-one states don't protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace and in housing, meaning people can potentially be legally fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some advocates argue the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already shields LGBT workers from discrimination, but the argument has yet to be proven in court.