While there have been a number of gay-rights issues in MMOs over the past few years (remember that gay guild that got banned in World of Warcraft?), apparently the possibility of homosexual and interspecies marriage in the upcoming Lord of the Rings Online game was a topic of immense debate for its developers. Apparently the issue was so controversial for the development team that the producer finally solved it by yanking the marriage feature out of the game entirely.
The fact that gay marriage could cause such a stir seems, to be perfectly blunt, ridiculous, even with the developers' reasoning:
"The rule that we tried to follow across the board was: if there's an example of it in the book, the door is open to explore it," Nik says. "Very rarely will you see an elf and a human hook up, but it does happen; the door is open. Dwarves don't intermarry with hobbits; that door is shut ... Did two male hobbits ever hook up in the shire and have little hobbit civil unions? No. The door is shut."
More than that, Nik says, it seemed as if same-sex marriage would simply not have fit with Tolkien's vision for the worlds he created.
"Tolkien was a conservative Catholic," Nik says. "He went out drinking with C.S. Lewis every night, and the two of them had a worldview that was -- well, let's just say it clashes a little bit with the sensibilities of East Coast liberals who make up the largest population of Turbine."
Personally, I think that's a giant cop-out. While Tolkien was a devout Christian, no one really knows how he felt regarding gay rights (probably because they weren't a public issue when he was writing his books). Now that such a feature's been banned, I worry that the decision will help foster homophobic comments and behavior within the game's universe. Not that I was really planning to play the game, but it's the principal of the thing.