Indiana’s Anti-Gay Bill Could Ruin the Pokemon National Championships

It’s almost April already, and for a lot of Pokemon fans that really means one thing: the Pokemon National Championships is coming up fast. This year the US Championships is going to be held in Indianapolis for the sixth time in a row, on July 3rd-5th. The last time the US National Championships was held in another city was in 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Pokemon 2014 US National Championships (

“What?” You might be saying to yourself, “Does anyone even still play the Pokemon Trading Card Game?” The 2014 US National Championships actually boasted the highest attendance ever at 2,166. And the Worlds Tournament boasted an even higher attendance rate of 3,000 (though only 155 attendees were actual players, it is difficult to qualify to compete at the Worlds Tournament. The tournament still draws huge fan numbers much like a sporting event). Pokemon remains a hugely popular franchise with it’s Trading Card Game, as well as the Video Games, Television Show, and Movies.

Pokemon 2014 US National Championships (

As a gigantic Pokemon fan as well as a competitive TCG player, I have spent months perfecting my decks. This year I can’t make it to Nationals, as the cost has grown more substantial every year to make it to the massive tournament that qualifies players for the World Tournament (which is being held in Boston this year on August 21st-23rd).

There is a new reason, however, that is going to prevent many Pokemon players from attending the US Nationals tournament this year, or at the very least is going to complicate their travel plans substantially. This is Senate Bill 101. By now it’s hard to have not heard of the controversial “Religious Freedom bill” that was just signed into law by right-wing Indiana Governor Mike Pence. The law allows businesses in the state of Indiana to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds. Aside from the obvious discrimination in the most common description of the law, the ability to discriminate can spread much further than only to same sex couples. The actual wording of the law allows any business to discriminate against anyone for any reason whether it be perceived or actual due to “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The law takes effect on July 1st, 2015; just in time for the Pokemon Nationals Tournament. Coupled with the fact that Indiana does not have any non-discrimination laws on the books, this makes for a dangerous combination.

The Intolerable Douchebag in Question (

From NPR “During debate on the legislation, state Rep. Bruce Borders cited the example of an anesthesiologist who objected to putting under a woman who was preparing to undergo an abortion.” There are dangerous potential repercussions to this law. A similar law passed through the State Senate in Arizona last year but was vetoed at the last moment by then-Governor Jan Brewer. Beyond the aforementioned incident this bill could allow businesses to discriminate based on race, gender, sexual preferences, and gender identities.

To quote a brilliant forum post by Makiri on Nugget Bridge “The Pokemon community is a diverse and inclusive one.” There are very few examples of discrimination at Pokemon tournaments, and while it is not directly written into the rules, according to the Pokemon Professor (the Pokemon Professor program trains judges and tournament leaders, and creates a group of elite knowledgeable Pokemon TCG players and fans) FAQ, “Players, parents, spectators, and venue staff should be addressed courteously, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental capacity.” And in fact in the Penalty Guidlines under Unsporting Conduct, use of slurs or insults is a severe infraction with the starting recommended penalty of disqualification.

“Players, parents, spectators, and venue staff should be addressed courteously, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental capacity.”

Despite the Pokemon Company International’s stance on discrimination, state law in Indiana could pose serious problems for attendees of the tournament. From simple issues such as being refused hotel accommodations after reservations were made months in advance, being refused food at restaurants, or being refused transportation by taxi drivers, attendees could face much more serious problems, such as being refused medical attention or aide in life-threatening situations. It’s time to write to Nintendo and the Pokemon Company International and urge them to reconsider holding the National tournament in Indiana in the coming years. This can be done through the support modules of tPCI and Nintendo or through their twitter pages. As Makiri points out in their thoughtful blog post, it’s too late for this year’s tournament, too much time and resources have already been poured into making it happen, but in future years it’s incredibly important for the Pokemon Company International to take a stance that shows that they will not accept discrimination against Pokemon TCG and Video Game players for any reason, be it for their race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disabilities, or any other reason perceived or otherwise. It is time for tPCI to stand up for their disenfranchised fans and players.

Tim Cook phrases the situation perfectly in his remarkable Op-Ed for the Washington Post, “This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.”

If you are heading to Indianapolis this year for the US Pokemon National Championships, there is a list of businesses that have joined Open For Service, a campaign to celebrate businesses that oppose discrimination of any type. According to their website, Open For Service is a “non-partisan, nonjudgmental group looking to provide a grassroots network for people to support businesses that open their doors for everyone-Black, White, Gay, Straight, Christian, Atheist, Disabled . . . well, you get our drift.” Whether you are queer or an ally, or simply a person who takes a stand against discrimination of any kind, it’s important to show businesses that if they discriminate, they will lose their business. Reference the list of businesses on Open For Service and try to only bring your business to them during your stay in Indianapolis. A business that discriminates against anyone for any reason is a business that does not deserve your money.

In the long run, the idea of the Pokemon National Championships may seem like a silly thing to be worried about to non-Pokemon fans. However it is just one of many events held in Indiana that will be affected by Senate Bill 101. Even people that do not live in Indiana will be affected by the law whenever they travel to or through Indiana for events, conventions, tournaments, and vacations. The Pokemon franchise is one facet of the gem that makes up nerd and geek culture, and our history is a tumultuous one full of people who are disenfranchised and discriminated against at every turn. It is because of this that we must always take a stand against discrimination, and we must always show our stance strongly in the face of adversity.

Horatio is a dorky Pokemon and Star Wars fan residing in San Francisco. In addition to their toy reviews, they run a Stargate SG-1 Tumblr and are an avid participator in NaNoWriMo.

Did you enjoy this article? Follow us on Facebook to get more great content! We have a weekly podcast you can find on our main site. Also follow us on Twitter and Tumblr 

Star Wars Rebels Premiere Report!

With the release of Star Wars Rebels coming up tonight (the pilot movie, “Spark of the Rebellion” airs on the Disney Channel on October 3rd, with the first episode airing on the 13th) Disney has been pushing Star Wars: Rebels into the forefront of every fan’s mind with “secret showings” at movie theaters throughout the US. We were able to snag tickets to one of the last showings at the AMC Metreon Cinemas in San Francisco last Saturday, and it was a very fun event.

To begin, the secret showing was only of “Spark of the Rebellion” – though we’ve heard that some of the other showings had the first episode tacked on at the end, we were not so lucky. Spark of the Rebellion is the same movie that I reviewed previously on Ace of Geeks, when we were able to attend the first secret showing in San Diego during SDCC. While prior to that showing we were warned that the movie was not entirely finished (so there may be some rough appearances) it did not look too different from what we saw on Saturday. I noticed several moments where it seemed shadows were added, or reflections in eyes, but overall it looked great, just like the first time we saw it.

The event itself began early in the morning and was attended by the local 501st and Mando Mercs. There was a “fun room” in the back of the theatre, where there were events and activities for children. There was also a booth giving out the Subway Rebels lunch bags, as well as a signup sheet for a secret code for a Chopper Avatar on XBox Live.

There was a booth with colouring sheets and crayons next to a very talented facepainter, who could not only paint the orange Star Wars Rebels logo onto children’s faces, but was also painting elaborate space scenes with tie-fighters and other Star Wars icons and insignia.

Despite what you might think, this is not Chris Brecheen.

And in the last booth there was a local balloon artist, Mr. Shap, who had several balloon figures of the main cast of Rebels on display, and was making free balloon lightsabers for children at the show. (He also does birthday parties and other events in the bay area).

Onto the show itself, I won’t go into great details since I already reviewed this movie a few months back, but for Disney’s first major foray into Star Wars it does not disappoint. The animation is excellent (on par with the Clone Wars cartoon) and the voice acting is well-cast. The Star Wars that we see in Rebels is a much darker Star Wars that what many people were and are expecting to come from Disney. During the opening scenes there are a number of background deaths, not to mention the clear depictions of totalitarianism and fascism shown in the operations of the Empire. It is not a cartoon to be missed, and if you can’t wait until it airs on the Disney Channel you can start getting to know the characters in Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, which was just released in the US and can be purchased at A New Dawn tells the story of how Kanan and Hera first met years before the start of Star Wars Rebels, and is also the first story in Disney’s new Star Wars Canon.

And most of all, don’t miss Spark of the Rebellion on the Disney Channel on October 3rd!

Horatio is a dorky toy reviewer in San Francisco. She also runs a Stargate Tumblr.

Did you enjoy this article? Follow us on Facebook to get more great content! We have a weekly podcast you can find on our main site. Also follow us on Twitter and Tumblr!