For years now, the iconic status of Orson Scott Card (left) within the science fiction community has had an asterisk: Yes, Ender’s Game and its various sequels are perennial favorites, but Card’s homophobic politics, about which he has been rather vocal over the years, leave many fans to make awkward excuses about how they just like good stories. (How homophobic, you ask? In one famous essay, Card suggested America needs anti-sodomy laws “to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”) To the limited extent that the mainstream world knows about Card, it usually doesn’t hear about his views—unless, say, he wins a lifetime achievement award for being an inspiration to the youth, leading activists to question the appropriateness of that gesture.
Those questions are getting louder, though, now that Card’s written an essay supporting California’s ballot initiative to ban gay marriages for The Mormon Times—or, as John Scalzi put it, “brings the economy-sized jug of crazy sauce to the same-sex marriage discussion”—by suggesting that the government has no business redefining millennia-long traditions, and if same-sex couples are acknowledged as equals to husband-wife pairings, “the last shreds of meaning will be stripped away from marriage, with homosexuals finishing what faithless, selfish heterosexuals have begun.”
Also, Card argues, if couples in real marriages were to openly rebel against a government that refuses to honor their traditional status as the cornerstone of civilization, it would be that government’s own fault. (No, really: “Regardless of law, 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… If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.”)
Card’s article was met by a sharply critical editorial from the Logo Network‘s AfterElton.com, which notes that the author continues to enjoy working relationships with “major media players such as Marvel Comics, Warner Brothers, and Card’s publisher Tom Doherty Associates,” contrasting that security with the public outcry and professional shunning that followed Mel Gibson‘s anti-Semitic outburst, or the refusal of a handful of bookstores to stock Ann Coulter‘s annual hate speech collections. (The repercussions aren’t quite as severe as the editorial implies, though: Gibson’s still working both behind and in front of the cameras, and Crown has Coulter’s latest ready to ship at year’s end .)
The Newsarama blog has a helpful roundup of additional criticism, but will the controversy significantly hurt Card professionally? After all, he’s benefited for years from the argument that an artist’s personal opinions shouldn’t be used against his creative output. Do you think that’s likely to change?