TIME magazine's yearly list of 100 Most Influential People came out today and it includes well-known, boldface names like John Legend, Viola Davis, and Ivanka Trump, but we think one of the lesser known (though likely not for long) monikers on the list deserves more attention: Bob Ferguson.
As the Attorney General of Washington state, Ferguson made national news earlier this year when he filed the lawsuit that halted the January travel ban targeting people from seven Muslim-majority countries, but as actor and outspoken Trump critic George Takei points out in his TIME essay praising the politician, that's hardly the first time he's stood up for a marginalized group.
"I first became aware of Bob Ferguson, the Washington State attorney general, when he spoke up for a local gay couple who was denied service by a florist in 2013," Takei writes. The actor is referencing the consumer protection lawsuit Ferguson filed on behalf of a gay couple who were refused floral arrangements for their wedding because the florist, Barronelle Stutzman, claimed providing her services to a gay couple was against her religious beliefs. Ferguson ultimately argued that case in front of the Washington Supreme Court, and the court ruled unanimously in his clients' favor.
But it wasn't until Ferguson challenged Trump's ill-advised travel ban, when Takei really took note of the rising politician.
Drawing parallels from his own time "behind American barbed-wire fences in a Japanese-American internment camp" where he pledged allegiance to the American flag at the start of every day with liberty and justice for all, Takei writes, "Bob Ferguson clearly believes everyone deserves those guarantees, no matter their background."
He adds, "We are a country of immigrants. And it was thrilling to watch him speak out in the court of law in order to ensure a better and truer democracy."
Takei's praise for Ferguson should come as no surprise. Like Ferguson, the Star Trek actor has always been an outspoken activist for groups whose civil liberties are in jeopardy or under attack, and his dedication to the cause has only intensified recently. In the past two years alone, the 80-year-old has quelled outrage over a black Santa at the Mall of America, staunchly defended gay marriage, and warned us against the dangers of racial profiling.