Entertainment Weekly, to which Ender’s Game novelist Orson Scott Card gave his now-infamous statement that “it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance towards those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute,” has an interesting new tidbit in the evolving story over a proposed boycott of the film adaptation of the novel on the grounds of Card’s anti-gay advocacy work. In July 26 print edition of the magazine, Josh Rottenberg reports that shortly after Card asked for tolerance for himself, “he quietly stepped down from the board of the National Organization for Marriage, a group devoted to battling same-sex marriage, which he had joined in 2009.”
Card might have quit NOM for any number of reasons. If he truly believes that the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision renders the debate over marriage equality “moot,” as he told Entertainment Weekly, he might not see any point in participating in NOM’s mission any more now that the battle’s been lost. It may be that the combination of the Windsor decision and the release of Ender’s Game, as well as Chris Sprouse’s decision not to draw a Superman story Card was writing for DC Comics, have finally made Card’s views that same-sex sexual activity should be re-criminalized and that it’s worth rebelling against the government to prevent marriage equality impose a cost on his career as a writer that he’s unwilling to pay.
But it’s a gesture that I’m hard-pressed to consider a major mark in either the win or the loss column for either party. Card’s put in years of work on the anti-gay agenda, and just because his side lost doesn’t mean he hasn’t inflicted quite a bit of damage along the way. Getting Card to quit NOM doesn’t undo that damage, and his decision comes at a point where his ability to affect policy is on the downswing. Maybe the best that can be said for all of this is that it’s the end of an era, a moment when views like Card’s are passing into the rubbish heap, where they’ll lie along with ideas like phrenology and the belief is that the earth is flat. It’s not exactly a victory for the power of Hollywood’s content to influence social change, but least Hollywood money can still have good effects, sometimes.