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Boldly Going Where No Couple Has Gone Before

Boldly Going Where No Couple Has Gone Before


Star Trek's George Takei and his partner, Brad Altman, will be some of the first people in line in West Hollywood on Tuesday. On the night before they take the plunge they sit down with Ross von Metzke for The Advocate

Days after Ellen and Portia became the first celebrity couple to announce they'd be getting married as the result of California's supreme court ruling, George Takei announced he and longtime partner Brad Altman would be taking a trip down the aisle. On the eve of George and Brad taking a trip to West Hollywood park to obtain their marriage license, The Advocate caught up with the couple to talk about their 21-year engagement, forthcoming nuptials, and how a few of George's Star Trek costars will figure into the ceremony.

You've been together 21 years. Did either of you ever think you'd see this day? George Takei: Frankly, we dreamed about it, but it seemed very far off.

Brad Altman: The excitement and thrill that we feel for knowing that tomorrow morning we're going to apply for and receive our marriage licenses is that the California political climate before the Supreme Court ruling was sort of iffy. It was a very courageous decision by the high court. It basically says that all people are equal in California when it comes to marriage.

GT: It's like when the California Supreme Court in 1948 deemed that interracial marriage is constitutional. It's as profound as that.

Three of these four judges were Republican appointees. Politically, what are your feelings on this decision? BA: It seems like the tent is getting bigger. Fair-minded Californians are beginning to realize that the arguments for marriage discrimination for GLBT people are sounding a little feeble. They really aren't coming up with any good zingers anymore.

GT: I've always believed in the two-party system. There are certain broad values that belong to one party and other broad values that belong to another party, but the moderate area is where the real progress comes from. It took Republicans--and particularly Chief Justice Ronald George. I think he has been a true definer of the ideals of American democracy. That also is going to take the rug out from under the people who are opposing us.

Why is it important for you to make sure you're out there on the first day they're issuing licenses? BA: George and I have been in a well-established and committed relationship for more than 21 years. It's been the longest engagement on record. We want to get to the front of that line just because it's about time we get married. But more important, it's our way of sharing with our fellow neighbors and friends this historic moment in California--to celebrate.

So you are doing the licenses tomorrow, wedding in September. What can we expect? GT: We love the idea that our union is going to be in the Democracy Forum. As I said, I do believe in the two-party system. I even believe in people having the right to collect signatures and put initiatives on the ballot. That's their right. But the idea of a democracy is that the ideals of the system ultimately will prevail. I grew up behind the barbed-wire fences of a U.S. internment camp [during World War II], and yet here I am. America can change. So we love the idea of getting married in the Democracy Forum.

BA: And that's at the Japanese-American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

GT: Which is an institution that we together with others helped found.

BA: The thing about our ceremony is, anyone can relate to what George and I are going through right now: wedding-planning anxiety. It's an amazingly overwhelming -- and fun -- task to figure out the elements we want to include in our wedding. We're going for a diverse wedding.

So we'll see a little bit of everything? GT: Well, we love the sound of bagpipe music. It's so joyful and celebratory. So we have a piper to begin our ceremony, and when it ends, the piper is going to lead us and the relatives and guests in a procession across the plaza.

BA: Our wedding dinner will have a Pacific-Asian, Baja-Mexican food theme, which is the way we're going to acknowledge my love of Mexican food.

GT: Me too. My mother used to cook wonderful Mexican food.

BA: And my mother said when she was pregnant she used to eat bean burritos, and that's why I love Mexican food.

GT: And on that Mexican note, we have a Mexican-American Buddhist minister officiating. Our best man is my friend from Star Trek, Walter Koenig and the matron of honor is Nichelle Nichols.

BA: Our wedding is going to be out of this world.

In keeping with the Star Trek theme. BA: George and I are going boldly where we have never gone before.

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Ross von Metzke