Friday, April 15, 2011

Openly Gay Mason Suspended in Kentucky

The Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting that the Grand Lodge of Kebtucky F&AM has suspended an openly gay member, following a trial held April 8th. W:.B:. John Wright, Past Master of Right Angle Lodge No. 233 in Winchester, Kentucky, was found guilty on several counts of un-Masonic conduct, and was suspended indefinitely in a letter sent April 11th.

Five Masons from Central Kentucky (and not from his own lodge) brought charges against Wright, saying he violated the Grand Lodge constitution by forsaking his belief in God in declaring his homosexuality, deserting his wife, and by going public with private Masonic information. When Wright became a Mason in 2007, he was married—he and his wife filed for divorce in March 2010 because he realized he was gay. According to the charges, Wright's behavior ran afoul of the Grand Lodge constitution because he "violated the sanctity of his marriage" and "deserted her due to his homosexuality," and that he may have violated his oath and obligation by engaging in other relationships prior to the finalization of his divorce.

The charges also alleged that Wright had violated the constitution because he had "openly forsaken his belief in God . . . by refusing to obey the Moral Laws in declaring his homosexuality which the Moral law declares as an abomination to the law of God." This charge was dismissed by the trial commission, but he was found guilty of all other charges.

In October 2010, assembled members of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky at their annual communication voted against legislation that would have banned openly gay men from joining Kentucky lodges.

Some have accused Wright of self-aggrandizement and using the issue to get his name in the papers, and he says on his website that he is a "LGBT activist", and describes himself as a "troublemaker." He went to the local paper when the anti-gay legislation was defeated at Grand Lodge last year. I suspect many Kentucky Masons didn't appreciate the issue being splashed across the media, especially when they had decisively voted the measure down—they handily defeated the proposal, yet got negative publicity over it anyway. That may have been the initial genesis of the charge of making making private Masonic business public.


UPDATE:
Overwhelming reports are that the principal charge that got him booted was going public with private Masonic information, and in particular, private communications that he took to the press, which included voice recordings from inside the tyled Grand Lodge annual communication. That's cause for suspension or expulsion in pretty much any Masonic jurisdiction. The homosexual aspects have been played up in the papers, largely through Wright's showboating and self-promotion. Were there Kentucky brethren who tried to make the gay issue central to the charges? Yes. But those were not the primary issues for the trial commission, apparently. Reports indicate that his sexuality came up only once in the proceedings, and it was Wright himself who attempted to introduce it.
Such mundanity does not make for compelling headlines.

The GL of Kentucky's defeat of anti-gay legislation last year is the real barometer of this issue in that state, not this Brother's case.

12 comments:

Dale Stubblefield said...

I was kind of expecting more comments on this one.

Vesp said...

Since when does Masonry follow only the religions that disallow homosexuality?

Death By Children said...

Idiots. If it was my lodge, I'd walk out. You know what? Until that guy gets reinstated, I'm a Gay Mason. GAY GAY GAY! I AM A GAY MASON!

Max said...

As for the violation against God, I would ask whose God? We as Masons are taught to worship God as our conscious see fit. I believe that the stance that the Brothers who brought the charges presumes the Judeo-Christian God. It is not one Brother's responsibility to tell another which God to worship (as a matter of fact, I believe is it expressly said that this should NOT happen).

As for the relationships between the separation and the finalization of the divorce, I would ask if similar level of scrutiny would occur if the Brother accused was heterosexual. I do not presume to make any accusation here, I am just raising a question for consideration. With the increase of the frequency of separations, even for many years at a time, perhaps it would be worthwhile for Grand Lodges to explore their stances on relations during these times to avoid future needs for interpretation.

As for the exposure of Masonic secrets... these were not covered in the article, therefore I cannot comment on it.

Chris Hodapp said...

Well, the religious objection was found to be without merit.

Many GLs have rules against abandoning your wife, adultery, etc. The homosexual aspect doesn't even have to be addressed. In addition, he was accused of leaking GL communications to the press, which is also a violation. By the letter of their law, he may have been guilty.

Now, we can argue all day long whether a straight member who left his wife would be treated the same way. And it was my understanding that the split with his wife was amicable. I wonder if the trial commission accepted a statement from her?

MP said...

As for the violation against God, I would ask whose God?

Ask Arkansas, who just booted someone for being Wiccan.

Evidently, only the Christian god is acceptable to them.

Thank god I never applied in Arkansas, and I'll never visit there.

But it's okay - GL sovereignty means no other US GL will suspend recognition of bigoted GLs, but they WILL suspend recognition of Minnesota, or DC, for using their sovereignty as they deem fit.

Calvin said...

Looks as though the article did what its writer intended, cause division and disrupting the peace and harmony among Masons.

Seems the only real issue was leaking masonic communications and that wasn't even covered in the article.

As to what the writer stirred the pot with, the man broke his obligation with his wife, and that is something the GL of each state is going to have to contend with whether the Mason in question is straight or not isn't even remotely the issue.

Pat The Iceman said...

So is Kentucky GL suspending all Masons who divorce after cheating on their wives?

Jonathan Sriberg said...

It's a pleasant change to see an online discussion of this nature that does not immediately devolve into anonymous insults.

I agree that the homosexual aspect of the charges was just unnecessary and used mostly to add kindle to the fire. There are a fair share of gay Masons within jurisdictions all over the country (and world, I imagine) and most are no more or less valuable than any other member of the Brotherhood.

Coming from the GL of Massachusetts, I keep a copy of the Grand Constitutions handy and there is no mention of adultery, homosexuality, etc... The few Brethren that have been suspended/expelled have been on charges stemming from cheating or defrauding either fellow Masons or people outside of the Fraternity where a court of law has convicted them. It is possible that there are some other regulations or guidelines that I am unaware of, but nothing that has made headlines like Wor. Wright's situation.

I would like to know what secrets were divulged, as this is the one charge that could have any merit, and not one that should lead to indefinite suspension without cause. Though most of the information can be found in any library or scattered around Google, it does not give him the right to go around sharing it with anyone that will listen.

Chris Hodapp said...

I'm not from Kentucky, and I don't know their constitution. But there are grand lodges that prohibit making lodge or grand lodge communications public. These are not Masonic "secrets," per se, but they are considered to be private communications. That may have been the basis on which that specific charge was brought. Perhaps someone from Kentucky can be more enlightening.

Jonathan Sriberg said...

True, and I think it is fair to say that (Grand) Lodge proceedings are not for public ears except when deemed appropriate by (Grand) Lodge.

I did just locate their Constitutions which can be found at http://www.grandlodgeofkentucky.org/pdf/Constitution/Constitution_2010_web.pdf. Page 43 and on contains Trial Code & Discipline. Section (2)(K)(9) contains the line about spousal desertion. Will need some time to absorb the rest of it.

Chris Hodapp said...

Jonathan, thanks for the link. Cutting to the chase, here are the GL of Kentucky's definitions of Unmasonic Conduct:

UNMASONIC CONDUCT - A Mason is guilty of unmasonic conduct if he:

(l) Violates the laws, customs, principles, or ancient usages of Masonry, or

(2) Commits a crime involving moral turpitude (*NOTE: Defined elsewhere in the constitution as "Conduct which is socially undesirable and is also base and depraved, as may be defined by the supreme court of the state of Kentucky.")

(3) Threatens that the lodge shall not increase in membership, or that no more can- didates shall be elected; or by words of like purpose threaten the growth or prosperity of the lodge, and candidates are in fact rejected thereafter when he is present, he may be tried for unmasonic conduct, because of the threat.

(4) Uses the Masonic Emblems, or the term “Masonic” in advertising any business by any individual or company.

(5) Habitually takes the name of God in vain, or blasphemy.

(6) Drunkenness is a Masonic offense, and the lodge should be rigid in their disci- pline on this subject.

(7) Unlawful carnal intercourse with any female.

(8) Violation of an oath lawfully taken is Masonic offense.

(9) The abuse, battery or injury by a Mason of his wife is an offense against Masonry. For a Mason to desert wife or family is unmasonic conduct. A Mason is
bound to obey the moral law, and is under special obligations to observe and preserve the sanctity of the marital relation.

(10) To honestly take the benefit of the bankrupt law is not a Masonic offense, but this does not relieve a bankrupt from the moral obligation to pay his debt, should he thereafter become able.

(11) A lawsuit is not a Masonic offense.

(12) Inability to pay debts is not a Masonic offense, but a debtor’s refusal to meet pecuniary obligations he is able to meet, being an infraction of the moral law, is a Masonic offense.

(13) The statue of limitation does not relieve a debtor from the moral obligation to pay a debt if he be able to do so.

(14) Polygamy is a crime against moral and Masonic laws.

(15) Soliciting petitions for initiation into Masonry is a violation of Masonic law, is contrary to the accepted teaching of the fraternity, and unmasonic.

(16) Disobedience of a Summons. A summons is the most forcible writ known to Masonry. So long as he is a member of the Fraternity, an Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft or Master Mason must obey this writ, whether he be a non-affiliate, a member of the lodge issuing the citation, or otherwise. Disobedience thereof would constitute one of the gravest of Masonic offenses, if it be shown the summons had been received, and is an act of insubordination, for which charges should be preferred.