This week has brought another intersection between Star Trek and politics. This time in a public hearing over marriage legislation in Maryland an argument was made warning of a future Data-like android from Star Trek: The Next Generation being able to marry.
Data and the threat of Android Marriage?
Every once in a while Star Trek and politics collide, as they did again this week in a public debate with lawmakers in Maryland over proposed marriage equality legislation. Computer programmer and 2010 Republican nominee for congress Robert Broadus spoke at a hearing before the Maryland Senate about the legislation, and he warned lawmakers that if they change the marriage law in Maryland, they are opening the door to Star Trek android marriages, saying:
If you pass this bill you will set the groundwork that one day, when artificial intelligence is that advanced, you will be considering whether people will marry their androids. Anyone who’s watched Star Trek, you’ve seen the character Data …He was able to generate a tear, because he could feel emotion..If you say that any two people who love each other can get married, then you set that precedent.
In "The Naked Now" Data declares he is "fully functional" – but can he marry?
If there were any Trekkies attending the hearing, they might have noted there was some Starfleet legal precedent regarding Data. Quoting Starfleet Judge Advocate General Captain Phillipa Louvois (from "Measure of a Man")
Is Data a machine? Yes. Is he the property of Starfleet? No. We’ve all been dancing around the basic issue: does Data have a soul? I don’t know that he has. I don’t know that I have! But I have got to give him the freedom to explore that question himself. It is the ruling of this court that Lieutenant Commander Data has the freedom to choose.
Captain Picard argues that Data is a sentient person in "Measure of a Man" – does he have the right to marriage as well?
Takei takes on Robosexual Marriage
In another Trek connection to the concerns of Android love, here is a clip of George Takei from last summer’s Futurama episode "Proposition Infinity" which dealt with the debate over "robosexual marriage".
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|Preview – No on Infinity|