Interview with George Takei and Brad Altman

If next November, California voters reject the effort to
amend their state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, actor George Takei and
his partner of twenty-one years Brad Altman can rightfully claim some
responsibility for its defeat. The two men are among the most vocal supporters
of the recent decision by that state’s Supreme Court to allow same-sex

In fact, to help ensure the initiative’s defeat, Takei and Altman are
using their own upcoming wedding to show their fellow citizens that not only is
there nothing to fear about gay marriage, but that there is much to celebrate.

George Takei (left) & Brad Altman

Photo credit: Gil Kaan recently caught up with the two to
discuss their impending nuptials, how Mr. Chekhov figured out Sulu was gay, and
much more.
Congratulations on getting married later this year. Did one of you pop the
question or was it just always assumed that if the option became available you
were going to get married?
George Takei:
a matter of fact, we were expecting the ruling from the California Supreme
Court. We didn’t know which way it was going to go, although the indication was
that it was going to be favorable, so we had CNN going all the time. I just
happened to be eating a sandwich and the ruling came down. Suddenly Brad fell
down to his knees and I said, “What are you doing?” And he said, “George, will
you marry me?” And I said, “Darn it! You beat me to it. I was going to ask
you.” So that’s how it happened, the moment the word came down.

AE: So you were a
couple that always felt like if that option became available, you were going to
take advantage of it?
Oh, yes.
Well, you know we knew that the matter was in the Supreme Court for a few
years. So this was in the air … so we had talked about getting married when it
becomes legal.

Brad Altman: Another
thing I wanted to add to what George just said, Michael, is to us, domestic
partnership is sort of like being a second-class citizen. California, as you know, has a legal
designation of domestic partnerships for same-gender couples, but that was
never really an option that George and I considered because it doesn’t give the
same weight or heft or emotion as is given to marriage in our society and

And I think one of the key points about the California
Supreme Court ruling that your readership should understand is that it’s not
just that I don’t think domestic partnership is the same thing as a marriage –
that is a key part of this Supreme Court ruling. They said domestic
partnerships are not the same thing as marriage, and you and I know that’s the

Photo credit: David McNew/Getty Images

AE: What do you say
to the couples out there, especially the young gay men who are disinterested in
marriage or don’t think it’s something particularly worth fighting for?
I think that
they need to see it in a broader perspective of a struggle for civil rights for
all Americans. There’s going to be a lot of words said between now and November
4th when the California
voters decide on the anti-gay ballot initiative. But ultimately, when you boil
it down, it’s about equal legal protection.

GT: There are
many laws that litigate against gays and lesbians, bisexual and transgender
people. Once [a gay couple] decide they want to be committed, there are other
laws that make that relationship for a same-sex couple that much more unfair.
They wouldn’t be able to share their pension rights, their insurance benefits,
their inheritance rights. There are many, many laws that are unequal, and so
equality in marriage is a great, both symbolic as well as a real, victory for
the GLBT community.

Next page! Live long and prosper!

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