“You should give a speech, Mike,” said Patience.
He didn’t know about a speech, but he was prepared to make some remarks. Standing in front of a classroom full of kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, as had been determined in 2019 all children were born with, every day for the past twenty years; as well as speaking at conferences, assemblies, concerts, and sporting events had long ago driven away any fear of public speaking that he might have had. Pulling one of the ice chests out onto the grass, he stepped up onto it.
“Excuse me ladies and gentlemen. May I have your attention please?”
Almost all of those present turned to look at him.
“Three… two… one…” he said, clapping his hands together between each count in the old trick he used to bring his classes to order. The remaining crowd members turned.
“My name is Mike Smith. You may know me. I’ve lived here in Springdale for the past thirty-three years and I taught geography right over there at Midland for twenty years. I’ve lived here on North Willow for the past twenty-seven years. I still live there with my wife Patience. That’s her right over there. As you may notice, she’s a robot.
“We’ve been married now for five years and I think it’s safe to say that in that time, we’ve never bothered anyone. We’ve kept to ourselves, obeyed the laws, and paid our taxes. Now we’re asking you for your help in defeating California Proposition 22. We’re not saying that you should marry a robot. We’re not even asking that human-robot marriages be made legal in the state of California. That’s for the people of California as a whole to decide. All we’re asking is that our marriage, lawfully performed in Massachusetts, not be thrown onto the trash heap just because you don’t like the way we live our lives.
“How would you feel if you moved to another state only to find your marriage null and void, because not only do the people of that state choose not to define marriage the same way that you did, but because they refused to allow for the fact that any other community could think differently than they do on the subject. We’ve seen this before. Eighty years ago people from all over the country traveled to Nevada to get divorced. Twenty years ago they travelled to Massachusetts to get married if they were gay. This isn’t just a question of belief. It’s a question of tolerance. It’s a question of whether we live in a country where diverse beliefs are accepted or not. Thank you.”
A moderate smattering of applause followed Mike as he stepped down from the ice chest and walked back to the table. Harriet congratulated him on a great speech and even Jack gave him a slap on the shoulder.
“That was a nice, although short, speech, Mike,” said Patience.
“I found it insulting,” said a woman’s voice.
Mike turned to find a woman about his age. She was of average height, though a little overweight, and her blond hair was teased out so that it looked like a hairy cloud around her rosy-cheeked face. She was wearing a blue jogging suit.
“Why is that?” he asked.
“I find it insulting to compare marriage between a man and a robot to marriage between two men. Gay people are people. A robot isn’t a person. It’s just a machine.”
“There were plenty of people who once argued that gay people aren’t people. There are people now who would argue that. The definition of a person isn’t the point. The point is that you shouldn’t dictate to other people in other states how they should define marriage, or anything else for that matter.”
“Well, I intend to vote for Proposition 22.”
“That’s your right,” he said. “But if I may ask, why the hell are you here then?”
“I’m here for the Save Marriage rally at 12:00.”
Mike turned and walked away from the woman.
“What time is it now, Patience?”
Mike turned to Harriet, Patience, and Jack in turn.