Editorial: It’s Time to Call Out Anti-Gay Author of “Ender’s Game”

According to science fiction author Orson Scott Card (pictured above), recent court decisions in Massachusetts and California recognizing same-sex marriage mean “the end of democracy in America.” As such, he advocates taking down our government “by whatever means is made possible or necessary."

It’s all there in a truly frightful — and brazenly dishonest — essay that Card published in last Thursday’s edition of the Mormon Times.

I can’t think the last time I’ve read something so offensive and bigoted written by a major media figure. Overthrowing the government because of same-sex marriage? As far as I know, even Pat Robertson doesn’t advocate this. We’re talking Fred Phelps territory here.

And Card is definitely a major figure in the science fiction community, a three-time winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and a winner of both the World Fantasy and Locus Awards. His novel, Ender’s Game, is considered a classic, one of the best-selling science fiction novels of all time. A major movie version is in the works with a screenplay written by Card himself. Wolfgang Petersen and Warner Brothers had both been involved, though it’s unclear if either still are.

Additionally, at this month’s Comic Con in San Diego, Marvel Comics announced that this October they are publishing a six issue miniseries based on Ender’s Game.

Some of Card’s arguments against same-sex marriage are straight from the far-right conservative playbook: for example, that marriage is, and must always be, synonymous with procreation. Infertile heterosexual couples are okay because they affirm “the universality of the pattern of marriage” — at least if they adopt. Card seems to grant no credence or respect to heterosexual couples who are childless by choice.

And Card clearly seems to detest gay people.

“When gay rights were being enforced by the courts back in the ’70s and ’80s, we were repeatedly told by all the proponents of gay rights that they would never attempt to legalize gay marriage,” Card writes. “It took about 15 minutes for that promise to be broken.”

I have absolutely no idea what Card means by this spiteful comment. As long as I’ve been alive and working in gay activism, we gay people have been quite clear about our long-term agenda: liberty and justice for all. It’s really not that difficult a concept.

Card spends a lot of time arguing that the availability of same-sex marriage and the open acknowledgement of gay people is destroying the “family,” but our families definitely don’t count. At no point does Card acknowledge, even tacitly, the legal and psychological burden we gay people bear when our relationships are literally made to be illegal. He certainly doesn’t see us as equal citizens and doesn’t even seem to think of us as human.

Brad Altman and Geroge Takei; gay couple marrying; Brooks Thomas and Brad Hudson
(Photo credit: Getty Images/David McNew/Justin Sullivan/David McNew

In arguing that the modern courts have overreached, Card says, “It is now illegal even to kneel and pray in front of a clinic that performs abortions.”

Card is entitled to his own opinions, as the saying goes, but he’s not entitled to his own facts. It’s now illegal to pray in front of an abortion clinic? It’s one thing to create fantasy worlds; it’s another thing to live in them.

Still, while I violently disagree with all these ideas, I ultimately believe Card has the right to express them.

However, in this most recent essay, Card goes one step farther. Same-sex marriage marks “the end of democracy in America,” he says, proceeding to sound a clarion call to literally overthrow the government.

Card praises home-schooling in his essay, so perhaps he never learned seventh grade civics, but our system of constitutional democracy includes something called the “judicial” branch of government — an institution that interprets state and the federal constitutions. No amount of votes of the people can overturn these constitutions — not unless these constitutions are, themselves, amended.

Card may not like the words in the California or Massachusetts state constitutions, or the courts that interpreted them, but they are as much a part of our democracy as are regular elections. (For what it’s worth, the democratically elected legislature of California twice voted to legalize same-sex marriage, though it was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and both the Massachusetts legislature and governor have at least tacitly affirmed the same-sex marriage decision.) To argue that this is the “end of democracy” is either willful misrepresentation or outright ignorance. And to call for overthrowing the government “by whatever means” is outrageous and wildly irresponsible.

Next Page: Card deserves "credit" because he doesn’t advocate violence against gays.

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