"Mr. Sulu, set a course away from Indiapolis at warp speed."
LGBT activist George Takei, best known for his role as ship navigator Mr. Sulu on "Star Trek," is threatening to encourage everyone to set their coordinates away from the state of Indiana if Republican Governor Mike Pence signs a "religious objections" bill that would legalize discrimination against LGBT citizens.
Taking to his Facebook page on Tuesday, Takei wrote:
The Governor of Indiana has indicated that he will sign SB101-a law that allows businesses to discriminate against customers based on the proprietors' religious beliefs. This bill is strikingly similar to one proposed-and vetoed due to public outcry in Arizona. Such laws harken back to a time where our society was divided, and people of color were banned from white establishments. That is not our nation any longer, and those are not our values.
To the governor and to the legislators in Indiana who support this backward-looking and divisive bill, I say to you this: If it goes into effect, Indiana will be marked as a state where certain people are not welcome, and so we will not visit. We will not spend. And we will not attend events, including GenCon, the world's largest gaming convention, held in Indianapolis each year. Many fans here are gamers, Governor Pence, and we will demand the convention move out of your state.
Takei's threat involving GenCon is anything but empty. The Indianapolis Star reports that organizers of the popular convention plan to relocate to another state should Pence sign the discriminatory bill.
"Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years," said Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, in a letter sent to Pence just hours after lawmakers sent the measure to his desk.
Moving GenCon from Indianapolis could have substantial financial repercussions for the Hoosier State capital. With a reported 56,000 attendees at 2014's convention in Indianapolis, its estimated annual economic impact on the city is believed to be in excess of $50 million.
According tothe Associated Press, SB101, the bill at the center of the controversy, would prohibit state and local laws that "substantially burden" the ability of people - including businesses and associations - to follow their religious beliefs. Opponents fear the law could could be used to deny emergency medical services. Supporters argue the bill merely seeks to prevent the government from compelling people to provide services, such as catering or photography, for same-sex weddings or other activities that they find objectionable on religious grounds.
"Indiana is putting a big sign outside our door saying `We discriminate'," said Democratic Sen. Mark Stoops of Bloomington.
From our media partner EDGE