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‘Star Trek’s’ George Takei speaks out for gay rights at Japanese Cultural Center on Sunday

John Berger
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In his career-defining role as Lt. Sulu of the Starship “Enterprise,” George Takei was an advocate of peace, justice and equality in the fictional universe of “Star Trek.” In recent years, Takei has been a forceful and 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 the 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 at 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.”

Takei brings that message to Honolulu this weekend when he’ll appear 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 Mo‘ili‘ili.

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 transgender people in Hawaii.

Panel members include Josephine Chang, co-founder of a support group for parents with G/L/B/T children, UH-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 LGBTI Youth in the community.

George Takei: “Embracing Change”
Where: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, 2454 S. Beretania
When: 1:30 p.m., Sunday
Admission: Free
Info: 945-7633 or www.jcch.com

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