The Brentwood Public Library hasn’t had a book challenged in the seven years that Ellen Walther has been on the board, but a children’s book that touches on the subject of gay marriage is now under consideration to be removed.
Brentwood resident James Vandervoort’s daughter brought home the book, Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, without his knowledge, and now he wants it removed from the shelves. He met with the library board (though not a quorum) Monday, Oct. 15, to make his case.
"The purpose of the book is to help foster acceptance, and to glorify homosexual marriage," he said. "I think that’s a realistic synopsis of what the book is about."
Using gerbils as characters, a girl (gerbil) is upset because her favorite uncle is getting married, and she thinks she’ll lose him as a friend. Her uncle is marrying another male gerbil.
Vandervoort said the book advocates an illegal activity to children.
He said there could be many groups that advocate illegal activities, such as white supremacists groups, that would like to have books targeted for children to accept.
“If we say this is OK, would it be a jump to think that NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) in Brentwood or the region would say, ‘we think this is such a good idea, we would like to extend the joys of homosexual marriage to younger people.’”
Library Director Vicki Woods said that wasn’t likely, because a book advocating pedophilia doesn’t fit into the Brentwood Library’s mission.
Board member Brian Rothery said he thought the book is designed to give comfort to a child who’s confused about something involving a parent.
“Other than the fact that they’re both dressed in tuxedos, the names are androgynous, I don’t think it hits you over the head (that it’s a gay marriage),” Rothery said.
Vandervoort said the purpose of the book is clear.
“What light is Uncle Bobby portrayed in? That he’s a great guy and he’s getting married, and that’s not a bad thing,” Vandervoort said. “I think it’s hard to say this book is right down the middle neutral.”
Lynne DeVaughan said the purpose of a library is to encourage literacy, and there’s no right or wrong type of material to do that. She said what is legal or acceptable can change, and it’s up to the patron to determine what is acceptable for her household.
She also said the author wrote the book to be published everywhere, “and we have people who are gays and lesbians everywhere in this society, whether it’s legal or not.”
Board member Jackie Radovich said she knows several gays and lesbians, but can see Vandervoort’s point.
“They are beautiful people, but the marriage part – that’s not legal everywhere,” she said. “Just very small areas where it’s legal. That’s what bothers me.”
DeVaughan said she had a problem with removing the book because gay marriage is illegal in Missouri.
“How would we ever have a revolution, and changes in any kind of government system in society if we didn’t allow for other voices?” she said.
Vandervoort said, “We can get a revolution, or chaos, or anarchy by not following the rule of law.”
Woods ended the conversation, and told Vandervoort the board would vote on his request at the next board meeting.
Also in Patch:
Banned Books Week: Brentwood Library Book on Gay Marriage is Contested