The controversial bill, which was approved by state politicians on Thursday (20Feb14), gives business owners permission to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (Lgbt) people based on their religious beliefs, and the law has infuriated equal rights campaigner Takei.
In an open letter posted online and addressed to Arizona lawmakers, the openly-gay 76 year old rages, "Congratulations. You are now the first state actually to pass a bill permitting businesses - even those open to the public - to refuse to provide service to Lgbt people based on an individual's 'sincerely held religious belief.' This 'turn away the gay' bill enshrines discrimination into the law. Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us."
Takei goes on to detail his own personal ties to Arizona, where his longtime partner Brad Altman hails from.
He continues, "This bill also saddens me deeply. Brad and I have strong ties to Arizona. Brad was born in Phoenix, and we vacation in Show Low. We have close friends and relatives in the state and spend weeks there annually. We even attended the Fourth of July Parade in Show Low in 2012, looking like a pair of Arizona ranchers."
However, Takei is convinced the bill won't last as the backlash from equal rights advocates across the U.S. continues to grow.
He adds, "The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear."