A new bill in Indiana recently passed allows private businesses to openly discriminate against same-sex couples. As a result, Star Trek actor George Takei urges his fans to boycott the state.
Although supporters of the bill believe that it protects their religious rights, opponents see it as a way to legalize discrimination as it allows businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples without later legal consequences, such as lawsuits for refusal of service.
The bill passed through both the Indiana house and Senate and was then signed into law by state Governor Mike Pence on Thursday.
Takei, who married his same-sex partner, Brad Altman, in 2008, wrote openly against the law on his Facebook page.
"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," writes Takei. "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."
However, the state could also lose business from Gen Con, one of the largest tabletop game conventions in the world. If Gen Con pulls out of the state, Indiana loses about $50 million per year. The convention already threatened to pull out of the state if Governor Pence signed the bill, which he did.
"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," wrote Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, in a letter sent to Pence. "Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds."
Gen Con's contract with their current venue, the Indiana Convention Center, doesn't expire until 2020. However, in a recent letter to convention attendees, Swartout mentioned that the convention has already begun discussion for a potential new venue in a different state.
Gen Con scheduled Takei as a guest at this year's Gen Con on May 17, but the actor pulled out of the convention after the bill went into law. It's likely that other guests may follow suit.
[Photo Credit: Alex Matsuo | Flickr]