Monday, June 29, 2009

Gate City Lodge Story Hits the Papers

For good or ill, the Gate City Lodge No. 2 story in Atlanta has hit the mainstream press.

From an article in today's Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The Grand Lodge of Georgia Free and Accepted Masons, a fraternal organization, is being sued by an Atlanta chapter and its senior officer who say the group’s state leaders are trying to disband the local affiliate because it accepted a black man as a member.

The complaint, filed by Gate City Lodge No. 2 and its head, Michael J. Bjelajac, in DeKalb County Superior Court, also names Douglas Hubert Ethridge of Atlanta, Starling A. “Sonny” Hicks of Stockbridge and W. Franklin Aspinwall Jr. of Kingsland as defendants.

In the 31-page complaint, filed June 18, Bjelajac and Gate City claim when they accepted 26-year-old Victor Marshall into membership last fall, Hicks and Ethridge wrote letters to the state organization. The letters stated allowing a non-white man into the group violated the association’s moral and Masonic laws.

Hicks and Ethridge sought to have Bjelajac expelled from the group and the dissolution of the Gate City chapter, which has 190 members and counted the late Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield among its ranks.


UPDATE

The story grows today.

The article, Masons' spat over black inductee spills into court (Associated Press) appeared in the Washington Post. the Boston Herald, and papers as far west as Colorado)

Meanwhile, Dick Petty in Insider Advantage Georgia reports the story, pointing out:

The suit not only brings unwanted attention to a group whose internal squabbles almost always remain behind the veil of secrecy, but potentially undercuts arguments by Gov. Sonny Perdue and others that the state’s racial progress in recent years makes its continued placement under rigid strictures of the Voting Rights Act unnecessary.

4 comments:

The K.N.O. said...

Here's what the GM of Georgia's take on it is:

"Controversy began developing over the issue when the newly-created Mason attended a Masonic anniversary celebration in Savannah this past February. [b]The state’s Grand Master[/b], the highest official in Masonry in Georgia, taking note of the controversy, issued a statement declaring that the new Mason “[b]is a regular Mason and should be received as such[/b],” according to the suit."

http://www.insideradvantagegeorgia.com/restricted/2009/June%202009/6-30-09/Masonry63019652.php

The K.N.O. said...

Seems the GL, or at least the GM, is working to help eliminate racism in Georgia.

sonny said...

Brethren, this whole Gate City thing has gotten blown way out of shape.

There is nothing in The GA Masonic Code that prevents a man of color from becoming a Mason. Therefore, the Charges filed by these two WB's are of no consequence and the Trial Commission could not find him guilty of anything.

The Grand Lodge of Georgia has NO provisions for keeping men of color out of Masonry. If that is done at all it is at the Lodge level and as you know it is Un-Masonic to discuss a Ballot and a Brother may Ballot anyway he choses.

This thing with Gate City would've went no where and the Master of Gate City should never have brought this to the Civil Courts.

Renford said...

Hey Hodapp!

I am kinda surprised this got brought into the courts but with some of the odd things I have heard about happening in Masonry lately I am not surprised.

There was another recent incident in Georgia that makes me even sicker than this. A couple of children were accepted into the Childrens' Home in Macon. Apparently these children were either black or were mixed. Most Georgia Masons had no problem with this and were happy to be able to help any child. Sadly there were some lodges that threatened to cease contributing to the Home until these children were kicked out. Those lodges should have lost their Charter over that. As far as I know nothing was done. How sad!

I have been quite vocal in my support for Gate City Lodge. I am sure I have ticked off a few people but I have no respect for such opinions.

Keep up the good work Brother! Maybe I can make arrangements to see you the next time I come up to Indiana.