Less than a year after the all-American comic book Archie announced it was adding a homosexual character to the cast of Jughead, Veronica, Betty and the gang, a new issue is hitting newsstands celebrating that character’s same-sex “marriage.”

“Life with Archie No. 16” hits newsstands next week, featuring the interracial, same-sex wedding of character Lt. Kevin Keller, a white American soldier wounded in Iraq, and Clay Walker, the black physical therapist who helped him recover.

Archie Comics CEO Jonathan Goldwater told CNN it’s part of a concerted effort to make Archie Andrews’ universe mirror the diversity and complexity of today’s world.

“Riverdale, Archie and the gang are set in high school, and we ran a risk, unless we reflect what’s going on with kids today in the real world, of becoming irrelevant,” said Goldwater, the son of Archie creator John L. Goldwater.

News of the same-sex wedding has been glowingly received by several organizations, including the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, and even the American Civil Liberties Union, which trumpeted pressing the issue in Archie, long perceived as a more traditional, mid-American comic book.

“LGBT relationships in Gotham, or discussed in the politically liberal living rooms and offices of Doonesbury, sure, that’s what you may expect,” writes Alicia Gay of the ACLU. “But Riverdale and the wider Archie universe have long stood for the mega-wholesome ideal of the American Midwest of yesteryear.

“It’s exciting that the fictional denizens of Riverdale, like their real world Midwestern counterparts in Iowa, and in five other states (plus D.C.) in the U.S., recognize that the ability to marry and make a lifetime commitment to the person you love is totally normal,” she continues. “It shows what so many of us already know – what defines a marriage is love and commitment. That is a value the ACLU supports, and we work hard to secure marriage for same-sex couples and win legal recognition for LGBT relationships.”

Goldwater told CNN that the creation of Riverdale High’s first homosexual student last year resulted in only seven canceled subscriptions and “hundreds and hundreds” of new ones.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Keller’s four-issue miniseries in 2011 sold out, and the homosexual character is getting his own solo series starting in February 2012 that will go back to his teenage years and see him get elected president of Riverdale High School.

Not everyone, however, has praised Archie Comics’ decision.

“It’s unfortunate that a comic book series usually seen as depicting innocent, all-American life is now being used to advance the sexual revolution,” Peter Spriggs of the Family Research Council told Fox News. “I think whatever boost in sales might come from the novelty or curiosity factors will be more than offset by the number of both kids and parents who will be turned off by this storyline and its obvious social and political agenda.”

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