Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

California’s Proposition 8

by Rob - November 20th, 2008.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

I’m a dual US/Canadian citizen. There was a day, a couple of weeks ago, upon which I said, “I have never been more proud to be an American — and I’ve never been more ashamed.” I was proud that my fellow Americans had elected Barack Obama as president; I was ashamed that California had ratified Proposition 8, thereby overturning the rights of gays to marry in that state.

I’ve been nominated for over 100 awards for my fiction over the years, but two of the nominations that I’m proudest of are for the same award: my Hominids and Hybrids were both finalists for the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, which honours science-fiction that positively portrays gay, lesbian, bi, and/or transgendered lifestyles. So it should come as no surprise that I’m very much in favour of enshrining in law the rights of gays to marry.

I’ve been arguing for some time — and am struggling (I have to admit) to make the argument concrete in the book that I’m currently writing, Watch — that humanity is better off as a whole when the net happiness in the world is increased, and that no one has any business thwarting someone’s else’s chance at love and contentment.

I’m also appalled when we don’t learn from history. So-called “separate but equal” never works; and, as a writer, to the very core of my being I believe that words matter: “civil union” is not the same thing as “marriage.”

As I say, I’ve been struggling to find ways to say this in my fiction. But others are saying it with panache and passion, with clarity and conviction, with wisdom and weight. I’m very grateful to my wonderful friend Kirstin Morrell for drawing the YouTube clip below to my attention. It is MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann talking about Proposition 8. I agree with every word.

[Direct YouTube Link]

[Full transcript in the comments section, below this post]

A couple of personal thoughts: unlike Keith Olbermann, I do have lots of gay and lesbian friends — people I love dearly. The most-recent wedding I attended was a gay one, held here in Canada. That said, he’s right, it shouldn’t make any difference, because other people’s marriages don’t affect you, and they take nothing away from you.

And to the argument that some make that marriage is “supposed” to be between a man and a woman, implicitly because it’s supposedly a union principally designed to provide infrastructure for biological reproduction by the two people involved, well, go jump in a lake.

I don’t have kids and neither do lots of other wonderful loving married couples I know. We all got married because of love, and that’s all the gay people in California, and so many other repressed places on Earth, want to do.

It may not be true in any Newtonian-physics sense that love makes the world go round, but the more love there is — the more open, acknowledged, encouraged, supported love there is — the longer we’ll last. People who are happy make the world a better place.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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