Today, library director James LaRue, who wrote a sensitive, balanced response to the initial challenge, reports that a second patron has challenged the book and asked for its removal from the Douglas County Libraries in Colorado. The new patron argued that “the topic of a gay wedding is inappropriate because same sex marriage is illegal in 48 states, and specifically, in Colorado.” She also said “she knows at least 100 people ready to fill out a petition against the book.”
LaRue wrote back to point out that the setting of Uncle Bobby’s Wedding is unknown, so we don’t know if it occurs in a place where marriage of same-sex couples is illegal. He also stressed that it would be impossible for librarians to be familiar with all Colorado laws and to review each potential library acquisition to determine if any of the characters violate those laws. He explains:
Thousands and thousands of our books feature true or fictional tales of murder, robbery, kidnapping – all of which violate Colorado laws. . . . The story of Robin Hood, in which a thief and robber is regarded as a hero, would also be forbidden. I concluded that the principle, in general, would be impossible for libraries to apply.
LaRue then offered to meet with the woman and the 100 people who agree with her. He notes that while she views this as a matter of a library advocating for a perspective she opposes, he says “it’s about the role of the public library as common and neutral ground, as a steward of public funds to represent all of the public. It’s a fair topic, and certainly deserving of community discussion.”
He also said the woman could appeal his decision to the library Board, or submit the petition and let him respond to it. He views this as an organized effort, but says, “I don’t know yet where it goes from here.”
Trying to ban books because the fictional characters do something that violates state law? I’d like to think any court would see this for the absurdity that it is. I’m realistic enough, though, to bet that this is going to be a nasty fight. I’ll keep you posted as the story develops.