Star Trek legend George Takei, who in recent years has become a Facebook phenomenon
with millions of followers, is calling for "socially responsible companies" to withdraw their businesses and support from Indiana over its new religious freedom law.
"I am outraged that Gov. [Mike] Pence would sign such a divisive measure into law," said Takei on Facebook Thursday. "He has made it clear that LGBT couples, like [husband] Brad and me, are now unwelcome in his state."
On Tuesday, Pence signed into law a religious objections bill
that some convention organizers and business leaders have opposed, saying it allows discrimination against gay people.
The measure prohibits state and local laws that "substantially burden" the ability of people — including businesses and associations — to follow their religious beliefs. Indiana is the first state to enact such a change this year.
According to conservative groups, the Indiana measure merely seeks to prevent the government from compelling people to provide such things as catering or photography for same-sex weddings or other activities they find objectionable on religious grounds.
But others are starting to protest,
including the leaders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who warned that the legislation was causing them to reconsider plans to hold their 6,000-person General Assembly in Indianapolis in 2017.
Adrian Swartout, the CEO of the 50,000-person Gen Con gamers' convention, said the legislation could affect the group's decision to hold the major event in Indianapolis past 2020. He said it would have "a direct negative impact on the state's economy."
And on Wednesday, Takei threatened that he and his husband will not attend events, including Gen Con, and warned he'd take other "gamers" with him.
"Many fans here are gamers, Governor Pence, and we will demand the convention move out of your state," Takei wrote.
Takei has a powerful Facebook reach, and his call for a boycott could be damaging to Indiana's convention industry. His newest post on Thursday had nearly 24,000 likes within the hour after it was posted, and had been shared 7,969 times.
The opposition to the law is not going along party lines. Indianapolis Republican Mayor Gregory Ballard is concerned that the new law will send the "wrong signal" in his city, and its tourism agency is worried convention planners will look elsewhere for their events.
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