Orson Scott Card disappoints me

It’s pretty sad when people you used to respect turn out to be complete nutjobs.

Take, for instance, Orson Scott Card, a science fiction writer and author of Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, the Homecoming saga, and dozens of other novels and short stories.

Today I read something he wrote a couple of weeks ago, published in the Mormon Times.

Apparently, Mr. Card is advocating the overthrow of the United States government and/or individual state governments over the issue of gay marriage. As in, encouraging taking up arms against the authorities if gay marriage is legalized. He really and truly views homosexuality as that much of a threat to whatever utopia he thinks he’s living in.

Now, if you, personally, aren’t comfortable with the idea of homosexuality, that is your own private prerogative to feel that way. But the vitriol and hate this man spews under the guise of “logic” are way beyond the pale.

Some choice quotes:

No matter how sexually attracted a man might be toward other men, or a woman toward other women, and no matter how close the bonds of affection and friendship might be within same-sex couples, there is no act of court or Congress that can make these relationships the same as the coupling between a man and a woman.

He really doesn’t do a very good job at all of explaining exactly HOW he thinks a homosexual relationship is fundamentally different from a heterosexual one.

Married people are doing something that is very, very hard — to combine the lives of a male and female, with all their physical and personality differences, into a stable relationship that persists across time.

He declares this as if homosexuals could not achieve the same end result were they allowed to marry.

Only when the marriage of heterosexuals has the support of the whole society can we have our best hope of raising each new generation to aspire to continue our civilization — including the custom of marriage.

When has the marriage of heterosexuals ever NOT had the support of society? That’s what society has always been about! He seems to believe, like a frighteningly high percentage of other people in this country, that legalizing gay marriage is somehow a threat to heterosexual marriage. I have never been able to figure this one out. How in the world would letting my friends Jim and Bill get married be any kind of threat to my marriage to Doc? How is that even an issue?

In an era when birth control and abortion make childbearing completely optional, the number of out-of-wedlock births shows the contempt that many women have for marriage. Yet most of these single mothers still demand that the man they chose not to marry before having sex with him provide financial support for them and their children — while denying the man any of the rights and protections of marriage.

The same old argument: placing all the blame on the woman. Does he not recognize that the man also chose not to marry the woman before he had sex with her, and shares equally in the responsibility for the outcome? It takes TWO people to make a baby; it takes TWO people to decide to get married. He makes it sound like women are involved in a conspiracy to deliberately get knocked up, refuse proposals of marriage, and then (horrors!) stick the man with partial financial responsibility for the children he helped create!

Society gains no benefit whatsoever (except for a momentary warm feeling about how “fair” and “compassionate” we are) from renaming homosexual liaisons and friendships as marriage.

Patently untrue. Society gains enormous benefit from embracing many different types of people and many different types of relationships. Also, the implication that homosexuals are not capable of anything deeper than friendships and sexual liaisons is unbelievably offensive.

If America becomes a place where our children are taken from us by law and forced to attend schools where they are taught that cohabitation is as good as marriage, that motherhood doesn’t require a husband or father, and that homosexuality is as valid a choice as heterosexuality for their future lives, then why in the world should married people continue to accept the authority of such a government?

And here you have it. Not only the “C” word (that’s “choice”), but the call to arms.

I have read and enjoyed a dozen or more of Mr. Card’s novels and short stories, and have always thought he was a fantastic writer who created extremely interesting universes and characters. That hasn’t changed. He is a very good writer with a rich imagination. My friend Chris pointed out that Ender’s Game was laden with homoerotic overtones; Card has incorporated gay characters into his novels on several occasions and has never portrayed them as anything other than normal. Which makes it all the more interesting that his personal feelings apparently run so counter to that.

For about two seconds I considered returning all my Card novels to Half Price Books and refusing to read any more of his works. But then I reminded myself that people are really complex and have many sides to them. I can like someone for one thing, and dislike them for another. I don’t think it’s fair or open-minded to completely dismiss a person you previously admired based on something largely unrelated to what you admired about them. Just because he has some really scary and fucked up ideas doesn’t mean that — ooh, undoesies! — I suddenly dislike all the novels that I previously liked. That isn’t fair, and it isn’t true.

I still think he’s a good writer. But I no longer respect him. And I find that sad.

And that brings me to my solution to this problem. I have the answer to the “marriage crisis.”

I think one of the big issues with marriage is that there are two sides to it: the legal side, and the religious/”in God’s eyes” side. As it stands, we’ve kind of mixed up the two; the state meddles in the church, and the church meddles in the state. We need to separate these two sides, call them different things, and let people opt for one or both.

Any two consenting adults — man and woman, man and man, woman and woman — can apply for a Civil Union License. The Civil Union License would afford these two people the exact same legal benefits and protections that marriage does now. Declare an oath, sign some paperwork, and you are done.

“Marriage,” on the otherhand, becomes the domain exclusively of religion. People who have their Civil Union Licence can also opt to have a marriage ceremony, to make it official in God’s eyes, or whatever their reasoning. “Marriage” itself can retain all the ritual, religious significance, and pomp and circumstance that it enjoys today. Individual religious groups can set their own rules on who can get married and under what circumstances — just as they do today. But now you’ve taken the government out of the mix.

So you can choose to get married, which is a religious ceremony only. And you can ALSO choose to obtain a Civil Union License, which takes care of the legal side of things.

I’m sure Mr. Card would argue that my solution has nothing to do with what he sees as the problem (continued reproduction of our species — of course within the confines of heterosexual marriage). I think that if he’s really worried about our species continuing to reproduce, he should remind himself that there are six billion plus people on this planet and we seem to be doing a really overly find job of continuing society, despite the presence of gays, lesbians, and even non-childbearing heterosexuals. I’m not sure how he thinks that “protecting” marriage from The Gays is somehow going to solve things.


  1. John D

    People already get married without the help of clergy. People who do not belong to any denomination can get married by the Justice of the Peace of similar official. And yet, we don’t hear conservative religious people complaining about that. For that matter, many clergy are happy to celebrate same-sex unions.

    Why don’t we just let each religious group find their own term and the government can keep “marriage.” It’s really their term anyway.

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