Earlier this year, Orson Scott Card had his planned Superman story shelved by DC Comics after his illustrator dropped out because he was uncomfortable with Card’s vocal opposition to gay marriage. Now some gay rights groups are encouraging a boycott of Ender’s Game, the sci-fi film based on a 1985 novel by Card.
Apparently, someone pointed out to Card that while the gays may be godless sodomites, they do have disposable incomes. The author attempted to diffuse the situation by releasing a statement to Entertainment Weekly. Unfortunately, even though he is an accomplished writer, Card couldn’t prevent himself from coming off as smug and douchey in his statement, which is as follows:
Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.
With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.
Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.
Let’s focus on that second sentence first, shall we?
Card’s blasé acceptance of the Supreme Court’s ruling in this statement contradicts the 2009 Mormon Times opinion piece Card wrote, which stated: “Marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.”
But, beyond that, it’s dubious to claim that “the gay marriage issue [is] moot” after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling. All the court decision did was give gay couples in the 13 states (and the District of Columbia) that recognize gay marriage the same federal rights and privileges given to straight couples. It did nothing for gay couples in the other 37 states. It also did nothing to protect gay couples who get married in a state where its legal, then move to another state that doesn’t recognize their union.
Of course, pretending like this issue is settled before it actually is has been Card’s move for a while now. Back in May, well before this latest ruling, he said this in an editorial to The Rhinoceros Times: “There’s no need to legalize gay marriage. I have plenty of gay friends who are committed couples; some of them call themselves married, some don’t, but their friends treat them as married … There are no laws left standing that discriminate against gay couples. They can visit each other in the hospital. They can benefit from each other’s insurance.”
I do think Card is right that ultimately this will all get settled thanks to the “Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution,” but it could take years and countless court cases to make that a reality. It was a small victory, but the fight isn’t over yet. Gay couples aren’t hanging up the rainbow flags and the GLAAD pins and figuring, “It’ll all sort itself out.” To pretend like everything is fine now and the matter is definitively settled is disingenuous and it’s insulting to the group you are attempting to win over.
But all of that is, of course, missing the bigger point – which is that Card sounds like a total asshole in the rest of his statement.
“Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.” Really? That’s what you are going with? “Let’s see if you jerks will tolerate my intolerance.”
This is a man who served on the board of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage. He’s described homosexuality as a “reproductive dysfunction” and compared gay people to lusty 15-year-old boys who can’t control their hormones. He has been vocal in his stance that homosexuality is a sin and that those who practice it need to repent. Just because the Supreme Court decided that Card’s stance is morally wrong doesn’t mean that he and everyone else who held those beliefs just get a free pass now on the things they said. He was actively trying to stop this from happening and he didn’t even offer an insincere apology in his incredibly transparent, financially-motivated statement, so why would he assume that everything is copacetic now?
We have free speech in this country. It’s one of the things that makes America great. But what people like Card seem to forget is that, while you have the right to say whatever you want, the Constitution doesn’t protect you from suffering a public backlash. You are allowed to believe that homosexuality is a sin and that the Supreme Court got it wrong. You are allowed to express those beliefs publicly. But the cost of that freedom of speech is that people are allowed to listen to your opinions and decide if they want to support you financially. And if they decide that they don’t want to see Ender’s Game because its author has devoted a significant amount of his life to campaigning against giving them the same basic civil rights everyone else has, that’s entirely reasonable and fair.
But even though I kind of hope your movie tanks now, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up hope for you, Orson Scott Card. The tide on gay marriage has changed dramatically in a very short time. It’s been amazing to see the pendulum swing and to see change happen. And I, for one, am holding out hope that some day you and the rest of the opposition out there will eventually see the error of your ways. After all, as some random book I read once said, “Human beings may be miserable specimens, in the main, but we can learn, and, through learning, become decent people.”
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.