Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Open letter to Orson Scott Card

As expected, North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment banning not only gay marriage but also official recognition of same-sex civil unions.  The only person I know who lives in North Carolina is Orson Scott Card, Mormon and award-winning science fiction writer of the Ender's Game series.  Orson came out strongly in favor of Amendment One banning gay marriage:
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.
Heterosexual pair-bonding has been at the heart of human evolution from the time we divided off from the chimps. Normalizing a dysfunction will only make ours into a society that corrodes any loyalty to it, as parents see that our laws and institutions now work against the reproductive success (not to mention happiness) of the next generation.
Link to Greensboro Times Article

In response, I'm writing the following open letter to Orson Scott Card.

Dear Orson:

I have always been a fan of your work.  Speaker for the Dead is one of the finest books of science fiction ever written. When I was a Mormon, I was proud to share that distinction with one of the greatest living science fiction writers.  I have signed copies of Ender's Game and Xenocide, which sit next to autographed  books by Herbert, Asimov, and Le Guin.

When I read your Greensboro Times article, I was blown away.  Do you honestly believe that there is not a "shred" of evidence for a biological basis for sexual orientation?  Have you not heard about the studies involving sexual dimorphism in the brains of homosexual and heterosexual men?  Have you not read any studies about the concordance of homosexuality in twins?  Are you being willfully ignorant?

I have to wonder if you are tipping your hand when you wrote (emphasis mine):
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. Anybody who doesn't like it just doesn't hang out with them.
It's just like heterosexual couples who are living together without marriage. Their friends still treat them like married couples, inviting them places together; they're a social unit. Those who strongly disapprove leave them alone.
You claim to have gay friends, but you don't offer any negative judgment against people who shun gays.  If you really did have gay friends, you would recognize that their feelings for each other are just as valid as your feelings for your wife.  I seriously doubt you have gay friends.  If you do, you are not much of a friend.

As much as I would like to see Ender's Game made into a movie, I hope Hollywood drops the project due to your homophobic rhetoric.  You needs a reality check. Don't try to sell your idea to Dreamworks SKG.  You know, of course, that the "G" is SKG is David Geffen, who is gay. While you are at it, don't have Brian Singer (X-Men) direct your movie. He's gay too.  You wonder why many of your fans are turning against you. Statistically, about 10% of them are gay.

I say all of this as a heterosexual who used to be as homophobic as you are now.  I'm ashamed to admit that.  I was raised in culture that looked at homosexuality as a serious moral sin.  Gays were demonized as less than human.  Their feelings were (and are) dismissed as aberrations ("reproductive dysfunctions," as you put it).

I remember the moment that my attitude changed.  It happened in an instant.  I was in Washington, D.C. and  visited an exhibition on the accomplishments of famous LGBT Americans.  I learned, to my surprise, that both the composer and the lyricist for West Side Story, one of my favorite musicals, were gay.  I honestly do not believe that Bernstein and Sondheim were writing "Maria," "Tonight," "One Heart," etc., while imagining what it would be like if they could only be straight.  They were expressing, in the pure language of music, the feelings that they experience with their partners.  With that realization, my homophobic feelings evaporated, never to return.  I only hope that you can find the peace that comes from giving up hate.

Orson, you really are an enigma.  My favorite book of yours is Xenocide.  I was reading it about the time that I lost my belief in the Mormon church.  In fact, it was instrumental in my "downfall."  I thought I sensed in Xenocide a kindred spirit.  Now, I'm not so sure.

Surely you weren't holding up Han Qing-Jao as a model of a healthy mind, but that appears to be precisely what you have become.  Perhaps you were simply going through a period of self-doubt when writing Xenocide and came back into the dogmatic beliefs of Mormonism as an apologist.  It has been known to happen.  I will try to remember you as the Orson Scott Card of Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, and Xenocide, not the backward homophobe that you have become.

You stand against the tide of history. You may have helped to stall marriage equality in your state with a last gasp of bigotry, but you and the people of North Carolina will ultimately fail, and future science fiction fans will one day wonder how you could be so morally backward, just as we currently look at the South before the Civil Rights movement. As Martin Luther King wisely observed, "Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." Although I am an atheist, I have faith that the better natures of human beings will prevail and homophobia will eventually become a curiosity of the past.

Very truly yours,



  1. Thank you for your letter. You nailed the problems with Card's arguments. And his morality.

    1. Thanks! I feel bad for him. He went from Ramen to Varlese in my book. :)