Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grand Lodge of Kentucky Votes Against Gay Ban

Assembled members of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky at their annual communication have voted against legislation that would have banned openly gay men from joining Kentucky lodges.

From Kentucky Masons vote against outlawing openly gay men by Valarie Honeycutt Spears in yesterday's Lexington Herald-Leader:

When the leader of a Winchester Masonic lodge recently told members he was gay, he said one man called him "a flaming faggot," insisted that he resign, and led several members in a walkout.

But John Wright (photo) refused to resign. Later, he stood firm when a Frankfort lodge proposed a change to the group's state constitution that would have prohibited openly gay men from being Masons in Kentucky.

At an annual statewide meeting in Louisville Monday, attendees turned down the proposal.

Wright said he believes this is a critical moment in the history of the Masons, which is said to be the world's oldest and largest fraternity.
"They said with a strong voice that they are not going to discriminate," said Wright, 26, master of the the 151-member Right Angle Lodge in Clark County.

"I do think that there are a large number of them of a newer mind-set that they can put these differences behind them and work toward the goals that the fraternity has. They can become better men and make our communities better places," said Wright, who works for a military defense contractor.

[snip]

"With any organization, you are going to have differing views, but we have learned to settle any differences amicably so that all may go with their heads held high and everyone satisfied," L. Todd Eastham, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, said after the vote. Tuesday was his last day in the position.

Eastham said he was prohibited from providing a specific tally of the closed vote.

Wright, who was at the meeting where the vote was taken, said that judging from the comments of members who wanted to expel openly gay men, he expects there will be other attempts to change the constitution. It has no prohibition against openly gay men being members and does not mention homosexuality.

"Being a member of this fraternity is something that is extremely important to me, and I am willing to fight to keep my membership," Wright said. "My father and paternal grandfather were also Masons, and I know they would want me to fight for what I believe is right. I will also fight for the other gay Masons in Kentucky so they can be themselves without fear of harassment from lodge members."

[snip]

When Wright became a member of the Masons in 2007, he was married, he said. In December 2009, he was elected to serve as the Master of his Winchester lodge.

Wright and his wife filed for divorce in March 2010 because he realized he was gay, he said. In May, when some members of the Masons found out, "news of my sexual orientation spread ... like wildfire," he said.

Since the meeting where he was asked to resign as Master of his lodge, some members "have been hostile toward me and my sexual orientation, but the majority have been accepting and tolerant,'' he said.

In June 2010, Hiram Lodge No. 4 in Frankfort proposed to change the state constitution, he said. The proposed change, which Wright provided, said: "Freemasonry is pro-family and recognizes marriage as between one man and one woman. Any other relationship is a violation of the moral law and therefore unmasonic conduct. Homosexual relationships, openly professed and practiced, are a violation of the moral law and therefore unmasonic conduct. No openly homosexual Freemason shall be allowed to retain membership in this grand jurisdiction."

The Master of the Frankfort lodge could not be reached Tuesday.

Wright said that before delegates voted on Monday, he spoke to the group, saying that "discrimination whether based on gender, race or sexual orientation is wrong and goes against everything that each and every one of us was taught."
Despite the move to expel homosexuals from the fraternity, Eastham said, he has not received any official complaints about Wright or requests that Wright be removed as master of his lodge. Wright said he has two more months left in his term.

11 comments:

Michael said...

I'm sad some Brothers are so intolerant that they proposed this legislation, and delighted that the Brothers assembled in the Grand Communication rejected it.

Christian said...

Freemasonry takes good men and makes them better. Sexual orientation does not have any bearing on whether a man is a good man or not. I know many gay brothers who are active officers, and at least one Standing Master who is gay. Many brethren for centuries have been homosexuals. I'm supportive of the outcome of the vote; I just think it was silly to ever have wasted time with such legislation.

Bro. Christopher Matero, 32 (Aztlan #1, Prescott, AZ & Fidelity #192, Fort Collins, CO)

kiemon said...

I am actually surprised at this outcome. Our Brothers in the Bluegrass state seem to be making strides, especially since the last news that I heard coming out of the area was a fallout from a Brother attending a PHA raising.So Mote It Be my Brethren.

Noonshyne said...

Speaking of "tolerance", my Lodge raised the first Black Mason in the history of the building last night. Numerous lodges have met there and three lodges still meet there. The building was built in 1923! We even had visitors from the local PHA in attendance.

47th Problem of Euclid said...

I've heard the argument made by an anti-gay brother that since he regards homosexuality as immoral, he would regard a gay candidate as not morally fit for masonry, therefore the candidate would not be of good report, as far as he was concerned. If the candidate made it to a ballot, he told me that he would be obliged to throw a black cube.

I think that's insipid. It would be tragic to rob his brethren of the joy of having gay brethren in his lodge. In our lodge, we ask the candidate if he is willing to call a gay man his brother (because he'd have to if elected), and if not, we do not ballot on him.

Chris Hodapp said...

As I have said in another forum, a gentleman doesn't discuss his sexual escapades, in ANY venue, so such a subject has no place in a society of gentlemen. That goes if they are gay, straight, or prefer left-handed Episcopalian kangaroos in their beds. It is not a proper topic for discussion among us. I don't need to know a man's sexual "orientation," whether he is gay, or if he ties his wife to the bed frame on alternate Saturdays and dresses up in cowboy chaps.

Wayne said...

All he has to do is invite his boyfriend or husband to the lodge for dinner (Hey, we all bring our wives right?) and it would be out in the open. A "don't ask don't tell" policy in Lodge is foolish.

Michael said...

Bro. Chris, that's sexual behavior, not sexual orientation. My Brothers certainly know my sexual orientation, as they know I am married to a woman. That preference, however, tells them nothing about my sexual behavior, and I, with pretensions to being a gentleman, am not about to discuss the matter. My orientation is in the open, as is a gay man's. Our intimate behavior with our respective partners is not.

Chris Hodapp said...

Every Master Mason has the right to deny visitation rights to any Mason who is not a member of his lodge. But to attempt to codify a ban of homosexuals from the fraternity is misguided, unnecessary, and ill advised, for a whole raft of reasons.

John Wright said...

I had no intention of coming out in the manner that I did, especially in open lodge. When the Brother (who happened to be my Senior Steward) demanded my resignation, and called me a "flaming faggot" in front of about 30 men, 2 younger Masons stood and asked me to confirm the rumors. Not wanting to lie to them, I did confirm. They, too, walked out with the other 10 members, but 20 or so remained.

When I gave my speech last Monday to the 350 or so delegates (800 people total were present, including visitors), 5 others stood and spoke in support of trashing this amendment and more than 10 spoke in favor of the ban. After the vote was taken and the results announced, there were many boo's and like sounds from the crowd. Several delegates came up to me and shook my hand, congratulating me for doing what was right.

I agree with Bro. Hodapp when he said stories of sexual escapades of gentleman have no place in the company of gentlemen. Never was anything like that talked about in lodge, but the opposition are quick to say that it did (as evidenced by some comments on kentucky.com.)

Please keep me in your thoughts, Brothers. The fight is anything but over, but like kiemon said, the Bluegrass state and the Grand Craft of Kentucky are making great strides in overcoming the bigotry and hatred of generations past.

TobyNorris said...

Last time I checked, Freemasonry was a fraternity that was all about Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love along with Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. Please explain how homosexuality fits in here? It is certainly not moral according to any of the cilivilized world's most dominant and successful moral codes as established in the Holy Scriptures on which every mason places his hand to take his oath. Homosexuality is certainly not a lifestyle that we want to promote and glorify in our culture or in our lodges, if we want our culture to survive, if indeed our culture has its foundation predicated on the concepts morality and truth. Is homosexuality what we mean by Brotherly Love? Friendship; sure, we can be friends with anyone we choose, including those that follow and glorify immoral alternate lifestyles. But can those who openly follow and glorify immoral behaviors such as the acts of the homosexual be good masons. That is the question before us? Evidently in the state of Kentucky, the majority of masons are yearning to embrace their homosexual brothers, and by so doing are also indirectly embracing and glorifying homosexuality itself. The next step would be to accept and glorify immorality, intemperance, lack of fortitude, ignorance, and injustice. Certainly, none of us are perfectly moral, but as masons do we not pledge to uphold and strive for the highest ideals and moral standards in our society? Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love - what do these three words really mean?