Mormon authors back Utah gay writer in dispute with publishing company

Authors David Powers King (and) and Michael Jensen.

Authors David Powers King (and) and Michael Jensen.

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 40 Mormon authors are backing a gay writer in his dispute with a Utah publisher over an author’s autobiographical reference to the writer’s boyfriend.

Authors Michael Jensen and David Powers King say Sweetwater Books, a division of Cedar Fort Publishing & Media based in Springville, canceled publication of their young-adult fantasy novel “Woven” because of the flap.

Authors David Powers King (left) and Michael Jensen.

The authors, in a news release, said the action was taken after Jensen demanded that his biographical blurb include the statement, ““He lives in Salt Lake City with his boyfriend and their four dogs.”

Jensen said he later agreed to change “boyfriend” to the more gender-neutral “partner,” but was told that was unacceptable as well.

In an email exchange with Cedar Fort Publishing, acquisitions editor Angie Workman told Jensen that the publisher “was concerned” about how the bio would resonate with LDS (Mormon Church) buyers.

“We can’t risk ruining our relationship with them by stating you live with your boyfriend,” wrote Workman.

Forty-one Mormon authors had signed a letter in support of Jensen as of Saturday morning, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.

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“While publishers have the right to choose what they will and will not publish, we believe books should be accepted or rejected upon the merits of their content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor,” the letter states.

Cedar Fort officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Abel Keogh, who signed the letter, said it was initiated by author Braden Bell.

“He said that this isn’t right and we need to do something,” Keogh told The Tribune, adding that many of the signatures come from authors who are either under contract with Cedar Fort or have had works published by it.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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