I’m almost afraid to give any greater attention to this topic, being pretty sure that the proponents of SJR7 (the proposed Indiana constitutional amendment concerning same-sex marriage) monitor this site on a regular basis and that what follows could set off a new wave of dire money-seeking warnings from them. But, knowing how many techno-geeks there are out there in our readership, I can’t resist a few observations about a couple of recent items here and here about the likelihood of human sexual interaction with, and even marriage to, robots, some time in our future. I won’t spoil what these pieces have to say by quoting from them, except to note one comment that all if this comes about, there will be a big backlash, even in Massachusetts.
The question raises some profound questions of interest to the LGBTQ community. For starters, I guess we will have to decide whether adding an “M” (for machine) at the end of an increasingly long alphabetical string is in order. And clearly, we need to brace ourselves for the day a future Congress debates whether or not to include robotophiles under ENDA’s protections. That’s really a no-brainer, oops, I mean no-CPU, though. All of us have benefited in our struggles by having obedient computers and other non-human office aids available and supportive, so insisting on their inclusion would certainly be in order. (My keyboard just now autotyped out a “thanks, ”… but if it tries to proposition me I may have to reboot just to indicate it’s not my type… well, at least not that kind of type.)
My guess is that when the time comes it will provoke some significant discussion within the more zealous part of the evangelical Christian community over whether or not human-machine marriage ought to be the subject of constitutional amendments. Some will find at least five Biblical passages, three of them in Leviticus, which they claim clearly condemn the practice of mechaniosexuality. Others will counter that Jesus never uttered a word about the Industrial Revolution, gear trains, modems, or self-defrosting refrigerators, let alone their erotic proclivities. But invariably, seeing the thought of loving, caring, relationships between Homo sapiens and automatic garage door openers will be too much for the Righteous Right and the clamor for corrective constitutional tinkering will begin. I don’t have any special insight into what this future national conversation might look like, but, considering how the debate concerning same-sex marriage and related issues has unfolded, the following might be a plausible scenario:
After some significant internal debate, a consensus will emerge among religious conservatives that current legislation/amendments dealing with same-sex relationships are inadequate to deal with the gathering storm. But where to start? Given the lack of agreement on which Biblical verse applies (remember that Gutenberg used the first printing press to print Holy Scripture, not to satisfy his more carnal leanings), nobody will really want to tackle prohibiting hetero-mechanical relationships. Clearly there will still be lots of macho straight guys who spend hours in their garages making sure “the old girl” is running properly, and there won’t seem to be much political advantage to offending them. More rewarding, surely, will be something aimed at SGCM (“same-gender cross-mechanical”) liaisons. These will be clearly more of a threat to the family and the sanctity of traditional marriages than the garden-variety kind God intended. Besides, anybody with a modicum of common sense will know that homochines can’t reproduce, they can only recruit. (Artificial Intelligence isn’t the same thing as Intelligent Design.) So human interaction with lawn mowers of the opposite gender will be left alone… but even long-term, monogamous relationships between men and a their ruggedized ceiling fans will be an easy target.
One of the major arguments that sponsors of the resulting laws and amendments will make to counter charges that full man-machine interface equality is being denied will be the familiar “slippery-slope” variety. You know, “if we let a guy and his roto-tiller buddy marry, how do we keep him from tying the knot with three, five, or half a dozen other labor-saving devices?” Or… ”what’s to prevent a cow from getting legal recognition for her domestic partnership with a milking machine?” If we let multiple same-sex humans, animals, sewing machines and retractable stadium roofs cohabit with legal approbation, can cornstalks and the entire Vegetable Kingdom be far behind?
One thing I haven’t really explored in the above scenario is the purely machine-to-machine marriage/sex situation. Since 1976 I have watched countless showings of “Star Wars” and have a pretty good idea of what really goes on between R-Two-D-Two and C-Three-Pee-Ohhhhh when they succumb to the Dark Side of the Force in the spaceport restroom on Alderon. I’m sure the folks who draft marriage amendments can come up with something suitable to keep activist judges (or robots in black robes and briefcases) from imposing like-machine-hookups on the rest of the Galaxy, at least that part of the known universe outside of New England. How their digital networking affects the sanctity of my networking is beyond me, but I’m sure there is a page on ScriptureVerseForEverythingImagineable.com that contains the answer.
Kind of gives a whole new meaning to “seven swans a-swimming, nine ladies dancing, and three blenders blending, doesn’t it?