Actor and activist George Takei refused to back off on Monday from his threat to encourage a boycott against the state of Arizona if Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signs a bill legalizing anti-LGBT discrimination, but he told MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell that he would still go there for other reasons.
“That was at the heat of the moment, and it is a tactic, a strategy to persuade Governor Brewer to veto that bill,” Takei said of his Saturday post criticizing state lawmakers for passing SB 1062. “We do mean it. If she does sign it, we will withhold our economic and other support.”
At the same time, however, Takei did listen to an entreaty from state House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D).
“There are millions of Arizonans that oppose this bill,” Campbell told Takei. “The business community’s come out against it. We have a wide range of people that are opposing this bill. So don’t hold us all to the same standard, George, I beg you for that. Don’t think that we all are not open to anybody coming to our state and spending money here and living here and enjoying themselves here and raising a family here.”
Campbell then asked Takei to visit the state and help him convince voters to remake the state House and Senate.
“You’re right,” Campbell said. “We have an extremist element that’s taken over the legislature, and let’s get them out. I’m committed to working with you, working with anybody across the country to make that happen in Arizona.”
“We’re absolutely with you,” Takei answered, mentioning that his husband, Brad Altman, has relatives in the state. He also ripped State Senate President Steve Pierce (R), who told O’Donnell’s colleague Chris Hayes he voted for the law because he initially saw no prejudice in it.
“How do people like that get elected in that office?” Takei asked. “We’ve got to correct the process by which they get into office. He doesn’t belong in public office.”
O’Donnell noted that the bill’s future might hinge on economic concerns, since the state committee charged with hosting next year’s Super Bowl in the state has already stated its opposition to SB 1062, while the National Football League, currently preparing for the prospect of having its first openly gay player in Michael Sam, released a terse statement saying it was monitoring the situation.
“It is not a religious freedom bill at all,” Takei told O’Donnell. “Ironically, their religious freedom is being well-protected by gays and lesbians in the military. And the economic vitality of Arizona is being contributed to by gays and lesbians. The so-called ‘religious freedom’ is just a cloak for prejudice, and they’re trying to write their prejudice into civil law, which you can’t do.”
Watch the discussion, as aired on MSNBC on Monday, below.