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Takei: Supreme Court Removed ‘Ick Factor’

Actor’s op-ed piece turns up in Washington Post

When George Takei came out as gay in 2005, the tide was slowly turning in terms of civil rights for same-sex couples. But still, it was not exactly cool to be gay, even for an actor in his 60s who might be interested in finding more work.

But what has slowed society down in terms of supporting gay rights has been what Takei has described as the “ick factor,” where heterosexuals can’t see themselves doing anything intimate with someone of the same sex, and so then they have to make sure that no one can do it.

Yet, the United States is not controlled by the “ick,” and as Takei pointed out in a new opinion piece published in this weekend’s Washington Post, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

“For more than 70 years, I’ve watched the ‘ick’ infect American life in a variety of ways, and concluded that it’s little more than a function of unfamiliarity,” Takei wrote. “Once upon a time you never saw two men kissing. Even I was taken aback the first time I saw two men being affectionate in public. The ‘ick’ runs deep, instilling unease even in those for whom an act is natural.”

But the “ick” has always gone beyond just gay rights. It’s been a part of society in many other ways, especially in the decades leading up to the gay rights movement when it was African-Americans fighting for their equality.

“A white person didn’t kiss a black person on American television until 1968 — on ‘Star Trek’ when Capt. Kirk kissed Lt. Uhura,” Takei said. “That was quite controversial. Indeed, two decades before that kiss, when I was growing up in California, it was illegal for Asians and whites to marry. Now I’m married to a white dude. How times have changed.”

Yet the best defense to “ick” is letting it grow out of society by the open-mindedness of fresh, younger minds. Takei said one poll in California alone of those under 39 had 78 percent in favor of marriage equality.

“Future generations will shake their heads at how narrow, fearful and ignorant we sounded today debating the Defense of Marriage Act,” Takei said. “Happily, the majority of our justices understood this and did not permit the ‘ick’ to stick.”

The Supreme Court issued two rulings this week that effectively gutted the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted federal benefits to same-sex couples, as well as allowing an appeal overturning Proposition 8 in California to die, effectively opening the door to gay marriage in that state once again.

Source: Syndey Morning Herald


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