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Fighting for rights

Actor George Takei brings his message to a Honolulu event

By John Berger

LAST UPDATED: 1:47 a.m. HST, Sep 10, 2010

In his career-defining role as Lt. Sulu of the Starship Enterprise, George Takei was an advocate for peace, justice and equality in the fictional universe of "Star Trek." In recent years, Takei has taken on a real-life role as an outspoken advocate of equal rights for gays and other minorities.

A survivor of America's internment of ethnic Japanese during World War II -- his family lost almost everything his grandfather and father had struggled to build -- Takei spoke up after 9/11, when it seemed Muslims might be targeted for similar treatment.

And when California struggled with the issue of same-sex marriage, he became actively involved in the campaign to legalize it and keep it legal.

"Today, the opponents of marriage equality cite their religious values as their religious justification," Takei said last year, addressing a statewide rally in Sacramento. "I respect their right to their beliefs. But they must understand that California is a diverse state with many faiths and religions. ... There is no place in our system of laws for any single religious group's value to be written into civil law that applies to everyone -- and certainly there is no place for it in our Constitution. It provides for the equal protection of all."

George Takei: "Embracing Change"

Where: Japanese Cultural Center, 2454 S. Beretania St.
When: 1:30 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Free
Info: 945-7633 or

Takei brings that message to Honolulu this weekend when he appears as the keynote speaker at "No Shame!: Talking About the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Experience in Hawai'i," Sunday afternoon at the Japanese Cultural Center in Moiliili.

Takei's speech, "Embracing Change," will be followed by a Q&A session and a panel discussion on the experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in Hawaii.

Panel members include Josephine Chang, co-founder of a support group for parents with LGBT children; University of Hawaii-Hilo student Micah Inoue; Kim Coco Iwamoto, member of the Board of Education; Camaron Miyamoto, coordinator of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Services at the UH-Manoa; and Rae Watanabe, a volunteer with LGBT youth in the community.

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