Card, in 2009, instead moved in to a position as a member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, a self-described “traditional marriage” group that has worked, and in many places has succeeded, to denigrate gay couples and ensure that states — and even countries — resist progress and enact same-sex marriage bans.
Most recently, alongside authoring a despicably bad anti-gay Hamlet rehash, Card backed North Carolina’s disgustingly overreaching constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnership rights.
He wrote in support of that amendment an op-ed on how gay marriage is a ploy of the Left, saying with a glaring use of fiction and not science the following:
If there were even a shred of science behind the absurd claims about gender and sexuality coming from the left, there might be a case for allowing this to happen. But there is no science behind it.
In fact, the scientific evidence we have points in the opposite direction: Same-sex attraction is not a strait jacket; people’s desires change over time; gay people still have choices; a reproductive dysfunction like same-sex attraction is not a death sentence for your DNA or for your desire to have a family in which children grow up with male and female parents to model appropriate gender roles.
Now, this isn’t just being against gay marriage. This is spouting ex-gay nonsense that has been evidenced to harm children.
We can say incontrovertibly then that Card has demonstrably used his status and, at the very least via his Mormon tithing, his money to advocate against gay rights and even appears to have at least tacitly supported some form of ex-gay therapy.
So, we must say that if the book Ender’s Game gave Card the means to improve the reach and weight of his opinion, and then he used his baseless anti-gay views to attack, defame and actively persecute same-sex couples, all of which cannot be disputed and none of which he has ever renounced, a discussion of Ender’s Game as an enabling factor in his rise to anti-gay prominence is entirely reasonable.
A boycott, too, is therefore not on the face of it beyond the bounds of what might be appropriate action for those who find Card’s views land on the spectrum of disagreeable to appalling — and it’s worth interjecting that no one is quibbling over Orson Scott Card’s right to hold these views, but that doesn’t mean he gets to speak into a vacuum of no consequence.
However, the always measured Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter most famous for his biopic on Harvey Milk, has reportedly delivered his opinion against the boycott:
There’s so much good to be done right now. Boycotting a movie made by 99% LGBT equality folks in an LGBT equality industry is a waste of our collective energy. Making one phone call to a relative in the south who isn’t quite there yet would be 1,000 times more effective.
He later went on to incorrectly state “The homophobic novelist who wrote the book hasn’t been involved in decades. Misguided boycott.”
We know that latter point to be false and that Card has as recently as 2012 attempted to use his position for anti-gay politics, but that his prominence and influence in the movement has waned does appear to be true.
That aside, Black manages to lay out a very powerful reason against the boycott: that of outreach.
We know that when the gay community opens its arms and attempts to educate through positive narratives like “we are all someone’s child” and that “equal love deserves equal rights,” the community wins. The massive gains in gay rights, while multifaceted in cause, attest to this.
When the community closes ranks and shuns something, it is less successful.
We groan to remember the Chick-fil-A debacle that (wrongly) became a free speech debate and hastened thousands of conservatives like Sarah Palin toward a future of heart disease as they consumed fried chicken by the bucketful just to demonstrate their support for Chick-fil-A’s “traditional family,” the Cathy clan whose donations to anti-gay causes amount to millions.
A rash dismissal of either point, the righteous anger over Card’s past or the potential for a backlash if a boycott were to go ahead (though, we note, no real backlash has yet organized itself), seems foolhardy.
What might be most fascinating in this case, though, isn’t talk surrounding the merits of the boycott itself, but that Lionsgate has been so worried by the threat and, moreover, of appearing to be in bed with Orson Scott Card that it needed to try damage control. Also, that the boycott really does appear to be gaining ground.
This in and of itself demonstrates the sea-change on gay rights and the reality that being anti-gay is now very firmly socially unacceptable, an idea that if floated a few years ago would firmly have belonged on the fiction shelf.
Image credit: Lionsgate; image used under fair use terms.
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