A comic book shop franchise in Ottawa is taking a stand for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights by pulling the work of a writer who publicly opposes gay marriage off its shelves.
Orson Scott Card, the American author who wrote the popular Ender's Game science fiction novel, is set to write a story in the upcoming Adventures of Superman for DC Comics.
It's due out in May, but The Comic Book Shoppe has decided not to stock it.
Instead, customers can place special orders for the print edition, as long as they do so before March 15.
Writer's other work no longer stocked
Both Comic Book Shoppe locations also decided last week to pull all of the writer's other work off their shelves.
"This is a man who wants to criminalize homosexuality," said Rob Spittall, the owner of The Comic Book Shoppe 2 location on Bank Street, not far from Ottawa's gay village.
'I'm in a world of superheroes. It's the superhero's job to stand up and fight for what we believe in.'—Rob Spittall, owner of The Comic Book Shoppe 2
"Superman is a very iconic character to a lot of the gay community. He's a character that stands for truth, justice and freedom for all, and to see and learn, like I had, about Orson Scott Card … I was astounded to find out that everything there was true," Spittall said.
He made the decision to make Card's work available by special order because some customers take collecting too seriously to stop because of someone's personal beliefs.
"I'm telling my customers I want to boycott this book. You have the freedom of choice whether you want to buy it or not, but we're saying, please don't," Spittall said.
When DC Comics announced Feb. 6 that it had hired Card to create a chapter of a new Superman anthology series, many LGBT groups in the U.S. protested and urged DC Comics to drop him.
Card has become a vocal opponent of gay marriage. He's a member of the board of directors of the right-leaning National Organization for Marriage, which has been at the forefront of opposing same-sex marriage laws.
He also wrote piece for the Mormon Times in 2009, in which he argued: "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."
In another column in 2012, he called homosexuality a "reproductive dysfunction" born of choice.
Response overwhelming, owner says
Since pulling all of Card's work last week, Spittall said the response has been overwhelming.
"There's been a huge wave of support for us. I even got a message from a guy somewhere in the States, I believe North Carolina … saying congratulations and thanks so much for taking a stand on things," Spittall said.
"This story has been tweeted to George Takei, to Ellen DeGeneres and a bunch of others as well, so it's gained a lot of attention as it's gone on. We're simply taking a stand and saying we don't like this, and that we hope you people don't as well."
But the response hasn't all been positive.
Someone unfriended Spittall on Facebook, and he said he's received emails from customers who disagree with the decision, saying it amounts to censorship.
He said he isn't going to change his mind, and that it's not the first time The Comic Book Shoppe has taken a stand like this. Spittall said he hasn't stocked anything by writer Dave Sim for years because of the author's anti-feminist views.
"I am doing something right," Spittall said. "I mean, I'm in a world of superheroes. It's the superhero's job to stand up and fight for what we believe in. And by me taking this standpoint, it's sort of following through with my business practices and what I sell."
Remarks on homosexuality go back to 1990s
Card has made public his opinions about homosexuality known for more than two decades.
In a 1990 article for Sunstone Magazine, Card wrote an essay in which he said:
"Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary 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."
While he did urge people to treat those who engage in homosexual acts with kindness, he wrote that the "goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly."