UPDATE: Trustees for the Brentwood Public Library held a special meeting, Oct. 22 and voted to keep "Uncle Bobby's Wedding" in its children's collection.
BRENTWOOD, MO - Shortly after the close of Banned Books Week (Sept 30 – Oct 6, 2012) and paralleling the second unconstitutional ruling of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Brentwood Public Library is weighing a request to remove a children’s book from its shelves because it displays a same-sex marriage in an acceptable manner. After his daughter checked out “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding”, James Vandervoot wrote a letter to the library director asking for the books removal because it promotes same-sex marriage.
In his letter, Vandervoot complains that "This book seeks to influence young children to accept an activity that is illegal (homosexual marriage) and a lifestyle that is well-documented to be harmful to one's physical and emotional well-being. 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. We can get a revolution, or chaos, or anarchy by not following the rule of law.”
Uncle Bobby's Wedding was strongly challenged when it was released in 2008, but library director Vicki Woods says Vandervoort's is the only complaint the Brentwood library has received and that lots of children’s books deal with sensitive topics and the book won’t be removed simply because same-sex marriages are illegal in Missouri.
The book’s description on Amazon reads:
Bobby and Jamie are getting married, but Bobby’s niece Chloe is worried that she won’t be his favorite person anymore. Will Uncle Bobby still think she is special? Sarah Brannen’s warm story is set in an alternative family as Uncle Bobby marries his boyfriend. ”Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” embraces Bobby’s relationship with Jamie, but keeps its focus where it truly belongs: on an uncle and niece’s love for each other.
Woods explains that “The decision [to include the book] was made by my children’s librarian and she made that decision based off of reviews that she read in popular journals that recommended the book. Our collection policy is, like most libraries that we operate from a very inclusive perspective," she said. "I buy books and material that I don’t agree with, but that’s not for me to decide."
“Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” joins more than 11,000 books that have been challenged (though not necessarily successfully censored) since 1982. Other children’s books include "Heather Has Two Mommies" (1989) and "Daddy's Roommate" (1991). Both books discussed same-sex parenting and attracted criticism and controversy. The American Library Association ranked "Heather Has Two Mommies" as the 11th most frequently challenged book in the United States in the 1990s. “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” ranked 8th in 2008.
A related controversy involves King & King, originally written in Dutch and published in English in 2002. The book is about a prince uninterested in a princess, who eventually falls in love with another prince. In 2006, paren"ts sued a Massachusetts school district after a teacher read the book to their son's second grade class. The judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying "Diversity is a hallmark of our nation."
Woods says she sent a letter to the father explaining that the book would stay. She wrote that there were a number of same-sex couples in Brentwood whose children would appreciate the book. Per library policy the book will be out of circulation until a decision is made on whether to keep it. The library's board of trustees will make that decision on November 12th.
Regardless of the Brentwood Library’s decision regarding the fate of “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding”, the book will soon join the thousands of LGBT themed titles in the library of The LGBT Center of St. Louis.
By COLIN LOVETT – WEB WRITER