Reprinted from The Rafu Shimpo, 9/19/2008.
Article by Gwen Muranaka.
With a splash of Broadway and “Star Trek,” George Takei married Brad Altman, declaring themselves partners for life in a moving ceremony at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Little Tokyo on Sunday.
Standing within a ring of yellow orchids and roses, Takei, 71, and Altman, 54, exchanged vows in the Democracy Center in a Buddhist ceremony presided over by Rev. William Briones, Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. Wearing matching white tuxedo dinner jackets, bow ties and black pants, they held hands and faced each other as they said their own vows.
The couple have been together for 21 years and in his vows, actor and chairman emeritus of the Japanese American National Museum, lovingly characterized Altman as the “control freak” who fit well with his easy-going personality. He recalled first meeting Altman at a running club 25 years ago and thinking he was “drop, dead gorgeous.”
“Ever since then, we’ve been running the marathon of life for the last 21 years. Over those years we’ve gotten to know each others strengths and shortcomings and where we complement each other,” said Takei.
“My vow to you is also a tribute to you. As we tie the bond of our love here — with this wedding ceremony, in this forum of democracy, in the September of my life — vow to you to care for you as you’ve cared for me. To cherish you with all my heart and to love you as my husband and the only man in my life. love you.”
In June they were the first couple in West Hollywood to apply for a marriage license after the California Supreme Court issued a ruling granting gays the right to marry.
“Now the California Supreme Court says our Golden State has marriage equality, beginning to today a dream comes true for me. can add my husband to the list of things I can call you. George I pledge to love you, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad times. vow to love you always as my lawfully wedded husband,” said Altman in his vows.
Takei’s “Star Trek” costars Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig were best lady and best man. Nichols (Uhura) and Koenig (Chekov) have known each other since they were on “Star Trek” more than 40 years ago.
“It is very significant, beyond the coupling of two people. It is significant historically and I’m proud to be part of it and very proud that George and Brad asked me to be best man,” said Koenig.
“For two beautiful people to say yes I will proclaim before God and everyone publicly this is who we are, I think that takes another kind of courage,” said Nichols.
Two hundred guests filled the softlylit center, entering to the sounds of Yukiko Matsuyama on koto. Randy Guiaya of the Three Filipino Tenors, sang “Climb Every Mountain” and Takei and Altman entered from opposite sides of the Democracy Center to the Broadway showtune “One” from “A Chorus Line.”
Before sharing a ceremonial cup of tea together, Rev. Briones explained that it represents the conceptof ichi-go ichi-e (one moment, one chance).
“This moment can never be repeated, it is unrepeatable. Therefore each moment is something to savor. Ichi-go ichi-e is to become fully conscious of each moment as it happens. This moment can never happen again,” said Briones.
Security was tight for the wedding in Little Tokyo with JANM Plaza closed to the public on Sunday by large temporary hedges and black curtains. Among the guests were Sen. Daniel Inouye and Irene Hirano, Councilmember Jan Perry, civil rights leader Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, friends and family members. Guests signed a framed proclamation drafted by the L.A. City Council expressing their best wishes to the couple.
“It was moving, it was memorable, I shall always remember it,” said Sen. Inouye, who wed Hirano earlier this year. The couple now plan to honeymoon in Argentina and Peru. Small boxes of Mikawaya manju with the saying,
“May sweet equality live long and prosper” were given to guests as party favors. “Cloud 9 isn’t high enough, cloud 90,” beamed Takei, after the ceremony.
“Happiest day of my life,” Altman concurred.