George Takei & Spouse Unveil PSA for Gay Couples to Beam Up Census

by Steve Weinstein

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday April 5, 2010

You don't have to be a nerd to love George Takei. Since coming out of the closet, the actor, who played the much-loved Hikaru Sulu on the legendary Star Trek TV series, has become a vocal advocate of gay causes.

He and his husband Brad Altman are now starring in a public service announcement sponsored by the Census Bureau to ensure that gay couples are counted in the massive 2010 Census taking place now.

At a press conference sponsored by GLAAD at New York City's LGBT Center, Takei said he was "very much excited to have been invited to participate in the campaign to get the LGBT community to participate. We both sent out forms back as husband and husband. We pay taxes, vote, serve in military but don't have equality. It's very important to be identified as a visible, palpable presence."

In the PSA, Takei appears in his iconic Star Trek uniform. Altman sits beside him wearing, for no apparent a reason, a foil cap, which he points to while Takei notes, "My husband can be so silly at times." The cap and homey atmosphere were intended to keep the commercial from being drab.

As for the cap, "He stole the scene from me," the veteran actor laughingly complained. "Brad was in regular clothes, so he decided to become an alien. My 'tinfoil diva' is helping American to go where it has never gone before - to full LGBT equality." (Presumably the local party store was out of Vulcan ears.) The PSAs began airing April 5 on the Logo Network.

Takei points in the PSA, "It doesn't matter if you have a legal marriage license or not." Even so, the census doesn't address the biggest concern that gay organizations have: It doesn't ask what the sexual orientations of the persons in a household are.

"This census doesn't have everything we wanted," noted Christine Quinn, the out-lesbian president of New York's City Council, who was also present at the Center's press conference. "That will take an act of Congress."

Gay groups have already begun working on the decade-long campaign to have Congress add the sexual-orientation question to the 2020 Census.

Even so, the 2010 Census represents a watershed moment, according to Timothy Olson, who heads LGBT outreach for the U.S. Census Bureau. The partnership program began two years ago. There are over several members of the Census Bureau working exclusively on this project, he added at the press conference. The long form, which samples a small number of households across the country on a regular basis to obtain important data about the demographics of the country.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).