Boycott Indiana!

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by George Takei,

from MSNBC,

My husband Brad and I like to spend our holidays in the White Mountains of Arizona. There’s a small town called Show Low where we’ve passed many a merry Christmas. We’ve been regulars at the July 4th parades there, entertained friends and family over the years, and consider it our home away from home. But last year, it was very nearly going to be impossible for us to travel back to Arizona in good conscience. You see, at that time, Arizona was on the verge of passing a bill that would have made us feel entirely unwelcome.

The so-called “Religious Freedom Bill” would have allowed proprietors of establishments open to the public to refuse to serve customers if doing so would violate the “sincerely held” religious beliefs of the owner. On the surface, the proposed law seemed like a neutral way to protect the First Amendment rights of business owners.

But beneath that surface lurked a dangerous and divisive effect, granting hotels, bars and restaurants the right to refuse to serve LGBT persons and couples such as Brad and me, simply because our love did not comport with the religious views of the owners.

But thanks to pressures upon the governor’s office in days before she was set to sign the law, and in the face of a boycott of the state by tourists and the NFL, which threatened to move the Super Bowl to Pasadena, Gov. Jan Brewer ultimately decided to veto the law. Tolerance and equality won out that day.

Although we faced and defeated that challenge, many similar fires began to rage across the nation. A similar law went into effect in Mississippi not long after, and another measure in Arkansas is about to slip quietly into place there. And just this past week, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana signed that state’s “Religious Freedom” bill, despite strong opposition from all manner of corporate citizens, religious leaders, and even athletic organizations, such as the NCAA.

I have called for a boycott of Indiana, 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.

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