Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Gay Brothers Suspended in Tennessee

"The mission of Freemasonry is to promote a way of life that binds like minded men in a worldwide brotherhood that transcends all religious, ethnic, cultural, social and educational differences; by teaching the great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth: and, by the outward expression of these, through its fellowship, its compassion and its concern, to find ways in which to serve God, family, country, neighbors and self. " - from the Grand Lodge of Tennessee's website

A situation I reported on in September of last year has been resolved. A gay Brother in Tennessee married another man, which is perfectly allowed under the law. Unfortunately, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee's code Sec. 4.2105 (27) specifically states that it is a Masonic offense to "To engage in lewd conduct. To promote or engage in homosexual activity. To cohabit immorally in a situation without the benefit of marriage." As a result, Worshipful Brother Dennis Clark, Past Master of Park Avenue Lodge No. 362 in Memphis,  and his partner and fellow Mason, Brother Mark Henderson, were brought up on Masonic charges. 

(For the original background on the story, along with a detailed public response from Brother Clark, see the post from last September HERE.)

Today, Brother Tom Accuosti on his Masonic Tao blogsite has posted a message from WBro. Clark. It seems that he and Henderson have  been suspended from the fraternity. It reads, in part:


It is impossible to describe the feeling of being rejected by the same lodge we both worked so hard to rebuild. After investing thousands of hours rebuilding Park Avenue Lodge #362 in Memphis and tens of thousands of dollars, after serving openly and happily to repair it and make the lodge a better place to be and a place to spend time for our brethren and our families, there is no way to describe the sense of rejection at the hands of my own brothers. Indeed, several of the officers were at our Blessing; they ate our food, danced to our music, enjoyed a day at our farm, and took communion with us. And now, not one of them will stand and speak for us. They are waiting until March to call a vote to remove some language from the constitution. 
In Tennessee, we say, “Everything that is vicious and cruel and oppressive it (Freemasonry) reprobates.” It doesn’t say to wait till the next Grand Lodge meeting to take a vote. Still, not one has stood up to say, “Stop! No more.” Some of these men I helped financially, many have come to my house for fellowship meals. They have come at my invitation to our Cathedral to celebrate Easter and Christmas. And now, they have vanished into nothingness. My former brothers, this is the stuff that Tennessee Freemasonry is made of. Mark and I are fallen soldiers in this war against bigotry but I am hopeful that the good brothers in Tennessee will right the ship and wrestle power away from those who would stand proudly on a decision that does nothing but stain the reputation of a Fraternity that I have loved.

The situation is a sad one for the fraternity as a whole. Clark was initially charged, not for engaging in lewd behavior, or even for actual "homosexual activity," but simply for posting a few photos of his wedding to his partner on his own personal Facebook page. 

I have repeatedly said that it is very likely that there have been gay Masons sitting in lodge quietly since the beginnings of the institution, and it is not out of the bounds of possibility that you sat with gay Masons during your degrees, wherever you may live. As Masons, we are entreated to welcome men of all faiths, beliefs and political persuasions. In fact, our laws, however they may be worded in each jurisdiction, boil down to telling us that such subjects are supposed to be none of our business.

The new Masons we all claim to want so desperately to join and save us from extinction know nothing about jurisdictional differences. We don't say, "Become a Freemason! We welcome you, unless you are gay and live in Tennessee or Georgia."  Leaders approaching the East, at the lodge or the grand lodge level, need to understand that thoroughly before they lobby for or defend exclusionary language and practices in our fraternity. The current crop of young men in whom we place so much hope care very much about issues like race, faith, and sexual orientation. We risk alienating these men, all because a few of us suffer from a narrow definition of moral law peculiar to our own personal beliefs. I hope for WBro. Clark and Bro. Henderson's sake that the next Grand Master reinstates them and supports the elimination of this wording in their law. 

It would be the Masonic thing to do. 

From Tom Accuosti's original post on this story from last September:


[L]et’s also keep in mind that while Freemasons understand (for the most part) that jurisdictions all have their own rules, the general public — you know, those people who read the Dan Brown books, and watch those History Channel specials — have no idea how the Society works. When the public starts hearing that “The Masons will kick you out if you’re gay” — and they will, of course, because these stories are already making the rounds on social media — they aren’t going to think to themselves “Oh, never mind, it’s just those guys in Georgia.” No, they will associate this with the entire fraternity in the US. Freemasonry, already fighting a reputation as an “old man’s club,” will soon be fighting a reputation as an “old dinosaur’s club.”

I do understand from one source that a resolution has been introduced to eliminate the "homosexual activity" reference from Tennessee's Code at the Grand Lodge session in March. 

--------------------------------------------------

UPDATE: WBro. Dennis Clark responded to this post in the public comments section, and provided the following explanation as to the final results of the charges and trial:


"The trial was originally scheduled in Memphis TN. Mark and I were prepared to give a vigorous defense but the trial was canceled without written notice two or three days before the trial was scheduled. (I found out by word of mouth.) Three months passed. The trial was rescheduled on January 30 at the Grand Lodge building--a distance of 240 miles and over three and a half hours away. I lodged a complaint that the trial was logistically impossible for us or for us to bring witnesses (TN 6.607), to which the Grand Master Hastings personally replied, indicating that the case was now an offense against the Grand Lodge and would be held in the Grand Lodge building. As a Deputy Sheriff and first responder, it was not possible for Mark to end his shift at midnight, drive to Nashville, have two trials, and return in time for his next shift. So we missed it. But that is insufficient to be found guilty of failing to appear. Here's why. 
The TN Constitution allows masons to make a sufficient response in writing (4.2105), which I did in August 2015 for the first trial scheduled in Memphis and again in January 2016 for the trial rescheduled and relocated to Nashville. To be clear, the official responses from the Grand Secretary Roy Etherton PGM dated 2 Feb 2016 say "Brother Clark was found guilty of the charges." It did not say guilt of failing to appear or show any new charges. As far as I can tell, we were tried and found guilty of being gay or married or both. "
----------------------------------------------------

UPDATE ON FEBRUARY 10th

ATTENTION TENNESSEE BRETHREN.  Your Grand Lodge is now monitoring your Facebook posts, and even the "likes" you post on the messages that appear on your social media pages. The following message was just posted this afternoon:


"I have learned that there will be a meeting tonight (10 Feb 2016) to decide what to do about Tennessee Master Masons who have "liked", commented favorably, or have been otherwise critical of Grand Master Hasting's decision to convict. Be advised that if you are a Master Mason in Tennessee, you might want to remove comments or "likes". There are still six long weeks left till the Grand Lodge meets on March 23-24 at 100 North 7th Street in Nashville, TN. Be there and use your voice. "

The Masonic author Allen Roberts once famously made a comment that was in fact really cribbed from a quote by William Shakespeare. The Bard's original line from Measure For Measure is: 
"Man, proud man, dressed in a little brief authority, like an angry ape, play such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make the angels weep." 


39 comments:

  1. With all due respect, this is exactly the type of mentality which led me to Le Droit Humain after 17 years in F&AM. My only regret is not doing it sooner.

    Mark Elliott 14*
    Harmony Lodge 1760, Princeton, NJ
    International Order of Freemasonry for Men & Women, Le Droit Humain

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  2. There are actually two important amendments that can correct this problem for Tennessee. I wrote them both myself.

    The first amendment to the penal code (27) removes language that makes being homosexual or co-habitating without the benefit of marriage a masonic offense. The rationale attached this this amendment is reasonably robust and fact-based, using US Census data. Removing this language ensures that other masons cannot be persecuted for being gay or simply co-habitating.

    The second amendment (30) is an addition that makes it a masonic offense to prevent a man from entering the fraternity based only on his race, creed, national origin, how he practices his religion, or his sexual orientation. You can find amendments to the TN Penal Code posted on the Tennessee Grand Lodge website.

    --Dennis Robert Clark

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  3. Dennis, thanks for commenting. I assume the Penal Code is hidden on the site from non-members. I couldn't find it myself.

    I won't press you on the details of the actions taken against you, although I assume you would have corrected my post if I had made any errors. I pray for this episode in your Masonic life to be righted soon by a new Grand Master. Your dedication to serve the Craft in the past does not deserve to be rewarded by injustice.

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  4. "The mission of Freemasonry is to promote a way of life that binds like minded men in a worldwide brotherhood that transcends all religious, ethnic, cultural, social and educational differences; by teaching the great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth: and, by the outward expression of these, through its fellowship, its compassion and its concern, to find ways in which to serve God, family, country, neighbors and self. "

    This I agree with very much. Tonight I heard a man speak that I love and respect. At our next Grand Lodge he will be made the Grand Master of the State of Kansas. Tonight he talked about building the Craft, building the Faternity of Masonry. He said we need to Serve, Lead, and Teach. We can not do these things by tearing a Brother down and passing judgement on him. It is out jobs as Masons and Brothers to build up good strong men to be better men, to be leaders. Some times those men are (GASP) gay men, men of color (pick a color), or of a different faith then the majority. Who cares....they took a knee adn swore an oath. They did not swear that oath to me. They swore it to themselves and their view of Deity. There are 2 great commandments in life. Love your Deity with all your might (How ever that looks to you) and your neighbor as yourself. That neighbor just may be a gay man swearing an oath, to be a better man. You are failing him, and your obligation for not doing everything in your power to help him be a success.

    Duane Marshall

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  5. Chris, the complete list of changes is captured under Code Proposals and Bios for JGW. Scroll down to find the changes to the Penal Code. You can find it here. It's publicly accessible. I really believe that careful consideration of these two amendments can right the ship in my Grand Jurisdiction and I'm hopeful for a favorable outcome for those who come after us.

    To your comments, I would only add some background. The trial was originally scheduled in Memphis TN. Mark and I were prepared to give a vigorous defense but the trial was canceled without written notice two or three days before the trial was scheduled. (I found out by word of mouth.) Three months passed. The trial was rescheduled on January 30 at the Grand Lodge building--a distance of 240 miles and over three and a half hours away. I lodged a complaint that the trial was logistically impossible for us or for us to bring witnesses (TN 6.607), to which the Grand Master Hastings personally replied, indicating that the case was now an offense against the Grand Lodge and would be held in the Grand Lodge building. As a Deputy Sheriff and first responder, it was not possible for Mark to end his shift at midnight, drive to Nashville, have two trials, and return in time for his next shift. So we missed it. But that is insufficient to be found guilty of failing to appear. Here's why.

    The TN Constitution allows masons to make a sufficient response in writing (4.2105), which I did in August 2015 for the first trial scheduled in Memphis and again in January 2016 for the trial rescheduled and relocated to Nashville. To be clear, the official responses from the Grand Secretary Roy Etherton PGM dated 2 Feb 2016 say "Brother Clark was found guilty of the charges." It did not say guilt of failing to appear or show any new charges. As far as I can tell, we were tried and found guilty of being gay or married or both.

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  6. A number of our grand lodges recognize grand lodges in Africa whose grand masters are political leaders who hold lifetime office and whose regimes are accused of terrible crimes. Some American grand lodges still, in 2016, do not accept African Americans. Jews are unwelcome in the Scottish Rite in England, Wales, and some other countries, and they are unwelcome as members even in the initial degrees in countries such as Sweden and Norway.

    Rather than try to resolve all of this, we now have added the burden of retroactively alienating the lgbt community by using the decisions by numerous courts and now of the Supreme Court affirming their constitutional rights -- using legal marriage as evidence of immorality. Apparently nullifying the Constitution is a prerogative of some grand lodges

    One assumes no brethren in Tennessee have cohabited prior to marriage and none have been named in divorce suits, as the grand master has only found a single violation of this part of the code. Given the average age for marriage of 29 and the divorce rate in some areas approaching fifty percent, the Masons of his jurisdiction are remarkable in their piety.

    When the grandmasters have their conferences, failure to address this rather than have another study or again put off discussion would be an abdication of leadership.

    The country is very much in need of bringing people together rather than creating divisions. What does recognition by our grand lodges of grand lodges behaving in this way mean for those of us who are not racists, gay bashers, or anti-semites?

    Paul Rich
    St, John's Lodge, Boston

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  7. One of the problems that the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion is having right now is a tussle over the admissibility of lesbian and gay people into the full life of the church (marriage, ordination, for example). One of the more conservative movements within Anglicanism (Holy Trinity Brompton, authors of the Alpha Course) has stopped pushing descriptions of homosexuality as sinful and evil. Their prime targets are people in their 20's to 30's, and these people simply do not believe in the traditional Christian views about homosexuality. In order to attract them, references to homosexuality have been cut out of the Alpha Course.

    Freemasonry faces the same challenges that the Anglican Communion faces: how to attract young men in that 20-30 year age group into the Craft. Actions like those of Georgia and Tennessee will not help in attracting young men to become Freemasons; in fact, they may repel them. So these Grand Lodges are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

    No one in my Lodge is in any way discriminatory against me (a gay Freemason, Past Master, and current Secretary of my Lodge). In fact, when an after-dinner toast contained a homophobic joke, the very next day the toaster was asked/required to apologise to me.

    W.Bro Chris Hansen, PM, Secretary of Goliath Lodge #5595 (but not expressing an official view of the Lodge)

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  8. Demit was my answer to Grandlodge of TN. Thanks for showing your true colors before I invested more years and money

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  9. "The current crop of young men in whom we place so much hope care very much about issues like race, faith, and sexual orientation. We risk alienating these men, all because a few of us suffer from a narrow definition of moral law peculiar to our own personal beliefs. I hope for WBro. Clark's sake that the next Grand Master reinstates him and supports the elimination of this wording in their law."

    Well said, brother.

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  10. I know a kangaroo court when I see one. Changing venues on short notice to a place and time that puts a burden on the defendant to even appear at all let alone effectively defend himself and call witnesses...it's obvious the trial had a predetermined outcome before it even began. And how could Brother Clark have successfully defended himself, anyway? He was charged with marrying a man. Well, he did marry a man. So as soon as the Grand Master decided to put him on trial, he'd already lost.

    I've gotten to know Brother Clark via the internet and he seems like exactly the kind of man we want more of in our fraternity. To drive him away is madness.

    The timing of these actions in TN and GA isn't a coincidence. It's obviously political retribution for a Supreme Court ruling. The GMs can't punish the Supreme Court so instead they're taking it out on individual brothers. How can a GM be so petty and vindictive? What an embarrassment to our fraternity.

    And every jurisdiction except District of Columbia has been completely silent. DC's statement didn't even mention TN or GA at all, proving there are ways for Grand Lodges to publicly respond to this without openly criticizing another jurisdiction. Yet, the other 48 have chosen to be silent instead. And that silence will hurt the fraternity. The public are talking about what a bunch of bigots we are, and they're not interested in hearing about "jurisdictional sovereignty." All the public cares about is that Freemasons are persecuting gays, and the rest of us don't seem to care.

    Dave Brown
    Garden City Lodge, Newtonville
    Boston University Lodge, Boston
    Mount Lebanon Lodge, Boston
    Grand Lodge of Massachusetts

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  11. And once again I'd like to point out that for FIFTY YEARS Southern Grand Lodges threatened the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts (and any other Grand Lodge) that if they dared to extend recognition to their PHA counterpart, they would immediately lose recognition from all Southern Grand Lodges. They bullied the rest of us into practicing their racism, and yet the rest of us sit on the sidelines and do nothing while they persecute our gay brethren.

    Doing nothing is not acceptable.

    Dave Brown

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    Replies
    1. Br. Brown - we, except for Indiana, did nothing when the GM of Florida issued his bigoted edict a few years ago, do I expect we don't do anything this time, either.

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  12. Hi, my name is Mark Henderson and I am the other half of this great Masonic Ousting. I am a Master Mason first in my heart and no matter what the Tennessee Grand Lodge does to me that cannot be changed. For years my partner Dennis Clark and I have been active in our lodge( Park Avenue#362) and have given of our hearts, time, resources , and talents to make a better world for all Masons who come after us. My joy of life cannot be squashed by any man be it the Grand Master or those that wish to take me down. I have the greatest hope that others will not stand by and just watch this happen . Whatever happens our lives will go on and I will find other worth while charitable endeavors .
    Thank you all for being real men and Masons.

    Mark Henderson
    MM, Park Avenue Lodge 362
    Memphis Tennessee

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  13. My only question is if these two men know that in TN it was this way why as Gay men would they join something that didn't want them?

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  14. As a Mason you aren't given a copy of the constitution or by laws until you are made a Master Mason. To my other brothers the question of my sexuality was not an issue as was the case of my religion, financial status, or political party preference. It was my character and my desire to make myself the best man I could be that influenced the ballot.
    From there I would prove myself to be worthy over and over again and not once did my being gay come into play. That is until some others forced this on me.

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  15. Did they really know their Grand Constitutions make it a Masonic offense "to promote or engage in homosexual activity"? How much do you know about what's in your own jurisdiction's Grand Constitutions? And if they did know, isn't it possible they believed it was a relic from the past that was never going to be enforced? In my own jurisdiction, for decades nobody noticed that according to the Grand Constitutions, Academic Lodges get a right of first refusal for any candidate that meets their special membership criteria. So if an Alumnus of Harvard University wants to become a Mason, technically he would be required to take his degrees at The Harvard Lodge even if he'd rather join a different lodge instead. This clause (a holdover from an earlier era when all local lodges in Massachusetts had a territorial jurisdiction) went unnoticed and unenforced for decades, and will probably be removed at the next Quarterly. But in the meantime, every one of those candidates that was supposed to petition an academic lodge but instead took their degrees at a different lodge is technically an Irregular Mason. But when it was discovered, did the Grand Master put all the lodges that raised those Masons on trial for making Irregular Masons? Were those Masons suspended and forced to get themselves healed? Of course not. The Grand Master exercised "prosecutorial discretion," and realized that just because the can put someone on trial and make the charges stick doesn't mean he should. The clause is a relic from the past that should remain unenforced until it's removed entirely. And there's no reason the same can't be said about Tennessee's code Sec. 4.2105 (27).

    After all, we're talking about a fraternity that claims it welcomes all men of good character as long as they believe in God. Why would anybody expect a fraternity that describes itself that way to persecute gays?

    Dave Brown

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  16. Mark,

    I am from Kansas and sorry this has happened to you. My thoughts are this. If you take a knee and swear the obligation you are a Brother, period.

    So to me..regardless of how all of this works out, or does not. You and your Partner as Brothers.

    Duane

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  17. Part of the crisis in the lodges over gay marriage is because of a change in the background of Masonic leadership, which has become less culturally literate at a time when the country is becoming more educated. An elite in grand lodges to an extent has become increasingly blue collar and lower middle class. Religions being to an extent a reflection of social class, the religious composition of some jurisdictions has changed.

    The result includes the loss of Masonic cultural literacy, which means unawareness of the importance of the jettisoning of Christianity from the Craft in the early eighteenth century (and perhaps hints of that even before in the time of Christopher Wren and the Royal Society). Anderson and his cohorts in London embraced this change, and the lodges dropped Trinitarianism, providing forums that attracted men like Benjamin Franklin because of their freedom from orthodox religion.

    Now with the increasing exit of educated members, there is a trend in some Masonic jurisdictions to move away from secularism and embrace a religiosity evidenced in the organist playing hymns and the prayers invoking an anthropomorphism rather than the Supreme Architect that the Enlightenment embraced. With that comes a Biblical literalism and its accompanying morality that should be left along with other theology outside the lodge room. The genius of Masonry was its insistence on providing a nondogmatic place of fellowship, so unusual at the time.

    The separation of church and state in America has something to do with the contribution made by Masonic secularism. Andrew Jackson, grand master of Tennessee, found himself roundly criticized for refusing to declare a national day of prayer, He replied that he would be, "...transcending the limits prescribed by the Constitution for the President and without feeling that I might in some degree disturb the security which religion nowadays enjoys in this country in its complete separation from the political concerns of the General Government." -- letter to the Synod of the Reformed Church of North America, 12 June 1832, explaining the request that he proclaim a "day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer." He understood the importance of demarcation.

    By all means people should have their views on marriage, but to impose in Freemasonry their religious beliefs on others stands against a centuries-old and successful openness that had much to do with the success of the movement.

    Bro. Paul Rich

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  18. Thank you, Paul, for your insightful comment. I have taken the liberty of posting it as a standalone item. I think this important message needs to be read and re-read by Masonic leaders and membership alike.

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  19. When I submitted my petition for membership in the Masonic Fraternity in 1986, I was looking for a group of guys to socialize with who would not be constantly asking me out on a date. At that time in Vermont, Civil Unions were first passed and the things I saw occurring out there in public by the homosexual community was downright disgusting. Eleven pairs of homosexuals having bare body sex in the open on a public beach as a tour boat floated by full of kids and adults. Homosexuals having sex in a public river just upstream from little kids, including girls, playing in the water.

    When I asked if Freemasonry was a homosexual organization, I was told that Freemasonry does not accept "fools," which are men who behave unwisely. It was made clear to me that "fool" was the operative word to exclude, among others, men who have sex with men.

    In fact, throughout the past several hundred years, hundreds of men have been suspended and expelled from Freemasonry for practicing homosexuality. This is appropriate because Freemasonry is a moral organization, where morality is those actions and behaviors that lead to the good health and well-being of individuals and communities. Morality is behaviors that contribute to a happy life, not cut it short or make it miserable. Freemasonry is constantly supporting the lives of orphans, widows, sick people, and those who otherwise suffer. We do not allow those for membership who knowing go about engaging in behaviors that spread diseases and injuries to others.

    The Grand Lodge of Tennessee is to be commended for their level-headed and proper treatment of their fallen members who have willingly strayed from the moral path.

    David W. Thomson III
    PM Social Lodge #38, Wilmington, VT
    PM Kinmundy Lodge #398, Kinmundy, IL

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  20. And AIDS is still a gay disease, right?

    My God, morality in a Masonic context cannot be Christian-only while at the same time, allow non-Christian members. It just cannot. Morality in a Masonic context is at best describe by Anderson, "good men and true." That's a nebulous statement that still is unhelpful. As a wise brother said to me, "Masonry's morality stance can be boiled down to 'don't be an asshole.'"

    Nick "I have titles, I just don't use them in my signature" Johnson

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  21. Also:

    "When I submitted my petition for membership in the Masonic Fraternity in 1986, I was looking for a group of guys to socialize with who would not be constantly asking me out on a date."

    Was this a common occurrence outside of Masonry for you?

    Nick "Still the same number of undisclosed titles" Johnson

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  22. Nick (without titles) Johnson, this blog asks us to sign our comment posts to show we are not cowans and eavesdroppers. What lodge are you from?

    There are more diseases and injuries prevalent to homosexual behavior than HIV/AIDS. But yes, HIV/AIDS patients are still more than 61% due to people engaging in homosexual behavior. It is sad to say that since 1980 that statistic has not changed.

    As for morality, what makes you think Christians have a monopoly with it? Morality has nothing to do with Christianity, Christians happen to be one group that promotes it. Morality is those actions and behaviors that lead to the good health and well-being of individuals and communities. Morality, like homosexuality, is a lifestyle. It is not a creed invented by one group to rule over another. Morality is what living things need to remain alive, and in a meaningful way.

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  23. @David Thomson (I wonder why blogger doesn't have nested replies).

    Actually homosexuality is a sexual orientation and not a lifestyle. There is no homosexual creed as you imply.

    There is no proof whatsoever that being homosexual is of any greater risk than heterosexuality. It has been refuted many times.

    I'm not certain how being gay has any impact on "what living things need to remain alive, and in a meaningful way."

    Your first paragraph about sex happening in the open - are you sure that happened? That usually ends in arrest for anyone engaging in sexual acts in public (I've only seen straight people get it on in public.)

    Lastly there is no proof that homosexuality is in any way damaging to those of that sexual orientation.

    Luke
    PM CFF #760, Indiana


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  24. Thanks, Luke. It's good to hear from you. I really need to get back to Twitter.

    And David. Where does Masonic morality come from? This is a very important question as the sourcing of where proscribed and approved conduct has to exist or it has to be implied through the commonalities within the group.

    Second, where are you pulling the 61% statistic from? I mean, is this another, 60% of the time it works every time statement?

    Third, I agree with you in part. Morality, and its overarching parent, ethics, is conduct that promotes societal well-being. But, considering we don't describe it in anything but nebulous terms, to explicitly try to impose some proscription of stated morality will always be flawed because it will be, at best, human made. Good GL Codes will wisely use their jurisdiction's profane penal code because it best replicates the societal norms within that state or province.

    We can't always be spearheading change but we shouldn't be waiting with the dinosaurs for a giant rock to hit us.

    Nick

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  25. Luke, can you provide physical evidence of some kind of cells in the body that determine sexual orientation? People have been looking for decades and nothing has been found. One thing has been determined, people have free will and can choose to do with their body what they will.

    Nick, There is ample evidence that homosexuality is bad for the body. Less than 2% of the population is homosexual, but more than 61% of HIV/AIDS cases are with homosexuals. Denial doesn't change the facts. There are numerous other facts I could recite, but which I won't. If you are educated, you can find this information on your own.

    In Vermont, I personally witnessed the eleven pairs of homosexuals on the public beach and the two pairs of homosexuals in the river that I mentioned above. I was not the only one. There was such an infestation of homosexuality with the passage of Civil Unions that a proposal was put on the local ballot in Wilmington, Vermont to make it illegal to have sex in public. The ballot won by three votes and a homosexual judge threw it out because he said he knew people who would have voted against it but didn't vote. This sounds like madness, but it is happening in the real world, which was why I was looking for a way to get away from it. Contact the Deerfield Valley News in West Dover, Vermont and as for reprints of the articles. They may still be available online. And, yes, to your earlier question. As a young man I was propositioned constantly when I was in public, as were many young men.

    As for morality being described in specific detail, what do you think laws, rules, and regulations are? There are thousands of volumes of law, which specifically spell out which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. Morality is codified to protect the public health and has been in every civilized society.

    It is easy to forget that we do not admit drunks to our lodges, either. Nor do we admit drug abusers or even guys who come to lodge without taking a bath for weeks and whose stink makes the eyes water. In many lodges, you can't even get through the doors without a suit and tie, or even a tuxedo in some cases, whether you are a member or not.

    Morality is a very big deal in Freemasonry. Every degree talks about morality as do most of the lectures. Morality is the central tenet of all Masonic teachings.

    There is a reason why people practicing homosexuality have been excluded from Masonry since the beginning of the organization. It is the same reason why other behaviors are excluded. It has nothing to do with hate, disrespect, or a lack of compassion. It is simply that Masons live to the HIGHEST standard and the BEST example of behavior. This is why Masons are so respected throughout the civilized world. To lower our standards for political correctness or any other reason is beneath us and contrary to the fine principles we live by.

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    Replies
    1. David, if homosexuality is a choice, as you assert, then it follows that sexuality in general is a choice. My question becomes, when, specifically, did you choose to be attracted to women? Moreover, I ask you the exact same question you asked Luke: "can you provide physical evidence of some kind of cells in the body that determine sexual orientation?" Can you provide proof that your heterosexuality is inborn and innate, or natural? My assertion is that you can't. If homosexual attraction is a choice then heterosexual attraction would also be a choice. So, it follows that my next question is how many times have you actively made the choice not to act upon your own homosexual inclinations in the spirit of morality. If you have not, because you do not have homosexual inclinations then you've just invalidated your own argument.

      Second, you proclaim that "morality is codified to protect the public health and has been in every civilized society," but you fail to provide specific examples of actual people harmed by another man's attraction to the same gender, nor do you offer any specific examples any men who were protected by this discrimination. If you have them, please provide specific examples of actual people and exactly how they were protected. Please also illuminate us on how these specific people would have been specifically harmed had no action been taken. Additionally, you refuse to acknowledge that yo ur bigoted and archaic rationalizations are causing real life pain and suffering in the lives of specifically identified people who are here to speak for themselves. Therefore, you are invalidating your own claims of moral superiority, once again and exposing these view points as the bigotry they really are. Please allow those specifically harmed by another persons personal preferences to speak for themselves and explain how they've been harmed, otherwise, you have no grounds to stand on in your argument.

      Third, you like to quote "facts" and statistics, yet not once have you provided citations for interested readers to follow up with. Therefore, your claims, as they stand, are mere conjecture and not, so far as I can tell, based in any form of reality whatsoever.

      Lastly, it is clear to me that you are obviously a closet-case, entrenched in unbearable stigmatic guilt because of your rejection of your own sexuality. Misery loves company, so you seek to create misery in other people's lives in retaliation for the misery your closeted lifestyle befalls upon you. But, I'm here to comfort you with the news that you don't have to torture yourself this way any more! Step out of the closet and embrace your own authenticity. It will be absolutely freeing and healthy for you to abandon the causes of stress and anxiety you subject yourself to daily. I will help, if you need it. . .Would you like to go out for dinner and movie next Friday?

      Sincerely,

      Christopher Lloyd

      Post Script: You claim that the discrimination you advocate "is why Masons are so respected throughout the civilized world," but I counter with the fact that these actions have actually caused me to lose all respect and admiration I once had for this organization. Its internal laws and enshrined provincialism, at least, as it appears, from those in positions of leadership are regressive and I don't desire the company of people like that, so why would I want to place myself in an environment in which being a jerk is required by law? Progress moves forward, not back and to surround myself with backwards traveling people would be silly and would negatively impact my own health and mental well being. That said, I bid you adieu. You can keep your backwards-ass organization. Peace out!

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  26. @David - I can't find in a Google search where any such gay judge "tossed out" a public sex voter approved law. You'd think something like that would make national headlines.

    What's a drunk? I'm afraid that doesn't carry any weight for decision of morality. Is it someone who has a glass of wine every night or gets hammered 3 nights a week? (As a Shriner I know plenty of Masons who drink regularly and my grandma would probably label drunks but she wouldn't call them particularly immoral.)

    The suit tie and tuxedo requirements aren't moral, but barriers to entry based on wealth and economic ability to obtain such outward signs of wealth.

    I agree that Masonry is hinged on good morals and that every degree is based off of moral principles. I've seen a lot of degree work, but I haven't gotten to the part that says being gay is immoral. Maybe it's in the AMD?

    The highest stand and best example of behavior excludes being gay in what way exactly? I wasn't aware that one's sexual orientation reduced one's ability to be able to keep one's word, take care of the sick, widows or orphans. I've not seen any evidence presented by your or anyone else that would explain how being gay is immoral.

    As a gay man, past master, and officer of the Scottish Rite, I'm afraid that Masonry has not excluded homosexuals from being Brothers. There is nothing in any of the charges, constitutions, or otherwise that agree with your stance.

    Morality is a large part of Freemasonry. It's why I'm an avid member.

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  27. Masons do not ask if brethren adhere to their Confirmation or Creedal vows of their church. The official web site of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America, warns that "We conclude that many tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are not compatible with Christianity or Southern Baptist doctrine." (http://www.sbc.net/faqs.asp) Denominations such as the Nazarenes, Mennonites, some Lutheran synods, Assemblies of God, Brethren, Free Methodists, Orthodox Presbyterians, Seventh Day Adventists, and so on, proscribe Masonry. The Catholic ban is well established and has recently been reaffirmed.

    Possibly then some of those now seeking to enforce their view of religion and morality on Masonry are themselves selective in deciding which edicts in their faith to follow. That is their business. We are glad they joined despite that.

    Because of pension and social security rules, as well as for social reasons, increasing numbers of widows and widowers live "in sin" with a second partner. Their Masonic membership is valued and their personal life is their business.

    As mainstream churches place gays in major pulpits and indeed gay couples in team ministries, and encourage gay adoption through church agencies, what comes of church days for lodges. What is the situation of Masons whose religions affirm the value of gay marriage: United Church of Christ (Congregationalists), Episcopalians, Unitarians, etc. Can anti gay Masons lay wreaths at memorials that include gay war dead or participate in civic functions that are for the entire community.

    The books on Masonic altars remind us of our important values, and are not there because of specific contents. By the end of the 18th century there were variant versions of the King James translations. Some denominations insist on one or another translations because their doctrinal points hinge on the edition. Some Bibles omit chapters or include additional chapters. None of that is central to Masonry.

    We cannot be proud of our tolerance, our universalism, our ecumenicism, our diversity, and then impose a particular religious view, one not held by many thousands of Masons.

    This is a serious crisis and Masonic leadership must lead.

    Bro. Paul Rich

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  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  29. W'ful Brother Rich, thank you for speaking with such clarity on the historical value of inclusion and diversity in Masonic Leadership. You were quoted in a recent article explaining the regional tension between intellectual enlightenment and religious ideologies. I am still very hopeful that the masonic membership in some southern jurisdictions are able to "right the ship" and remove the parts of their constitution that allow for discrimination. The full article and stream is available from WKNO, an NPR affiliate in Tennessee here.

    Dennis Robert Clark

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  30. Christopher, I actually appreciate the opportunity to answer your initial questions, despite the fact that you seem to have answered them for yourself already with your own bigotry and ignorance.

    I grew up in Southern Vermont, when homosexuality was gaining its first footholds in general society. I worked at Snow Lake Lodge in 1976 when I was 16 where the entire waitstaff was male only, and all but the Maitre d' were homosexuals who traveled between Marco Island, Florida and West Dover, Vermont each year. I was a dishwasher at that time before moving up to cook several years later.

    All the waiters were great friends of mine and we spent our evenings at the local disco and our days skiing and having a great time. When you know guys this well, you are quite open to their lifestyle and don't give it a second thought. Not only were they my friends and coworkers, but they were also my roommates at times. One in particular insisted on giving me a back rub and his hands went down to my buttocks before I clearly and politely reminded him that I was not interested in sex.

    My main reason for not being interested in sex was because at an early age I decided to wait until I met the woman I was destined to marry, and in fact, I did. But even so, I seriously gave thought to entering into a homosexual relationship and could see what I thought at that time would be benefits. And then AIDS started coming out in the news. At that time it affected almost entirely only homosexuals and people who shared unclean needles. It was because of the health concerns that I decided not to engage in homosexual behavior. That turned out to be a good choice because my friends then started dying off from AIDS rather quickly. In five years half of them were either dead or infected with "the virus" as they called it. (cont.)

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  31. (from previous post) I also walked across the United States in my twenties and was picked up by many homosexuals, especially near San Francisco. They approached me at bus stations when I traveled by bus, offering me $100 for "work."

    Contrary to your bigoted views, I have actually grown up with homosexuals and seen both their good and bad sides. I saw when they couldn't control themselves and bullied the public by having sex in the open at public beaches and swimming holes. They actually wanted to shock people, and that kind of nastiness was part of their sexual act.

    When I turned down the homosexuals near San Francisco, four separate rides within two hours, they each dropped me off in the middle if I-80 during the middle of the day and in high traffic as they tried to scare me into having sex with them.

    A friend of mine from high school, David Wright, decided to become a homosexual and went to Florida. He got a job at a truck dock and because he wouldn't have sex with the boss, someone backed a truck up and crushed him into the dock.

    When I was just a child in Los Angeles, I had an aunt who worked in an emergency room. She told us of a man who came into the room with a flashlight stuck up his butt. The doctor asked the nurse if he found what he was looking for, but the man died within twenty minutes due to the injury to his colon. There are actually thousands of deaths due to sexual injuries each year, which is why I choose not to engage in these practices, too.

    I gave homosexuality a fair shot to impress me, but I had no choice in the end but to be disappointed in what it has to offer.

    As for statistics of the unhealthiness related to homosexual behavior, just read the CDC web site with an open mind. Question to yourself how it is that most of the HIV/AIDS cases come from homosexuals who represent only 2% of the population. Question to yourself how homosexuals represent a large portion of the rectal cancer and rectal injuries deaths. Question to yourself why people who engage in homosexual are highly prone to suicide, and don't resort to blaming others because they choose not to be homosexual or support it. Homosexuality destroys a person's sense of decency. If they live through the guilt, they become nasty people. If they don't, their guilt leads to suicidal behavior and a sense that they have committed a serious moral error.

    I know this because I lived it, not because someone told me about it or because I have a hatred for anybody. I don't hate anybody and I don't fault people for making the choices that they do, but I do realize that people have to accept the consequences of their actions.

    Ignorant people, such as yourself, who think the homosexual issue is only about opinions and people who have no compassion, are destined to learn about morality the hard way. I pity you and the suffering your ignorance causes, both for you and also for the people you mislead.

    Aside from bigots like you, who prejudge the wiser and more experienced people of this world with your ignorant views, I will continue to educate those whose minds are not yet bent on self-destructive behaviors. I will continue to help people to learn that morality is all about making choices that promote the good health and well-being of themselves and the people around them.

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  32. As a gay Mason this line: "Question to yourself why people who engage in homosexual are highly prone to suicide, and don't resort to blaming others because they choose not to be homosexual or support it. Homosexuality destroys a person's sense of decency. If they live through the guilt, they become nasty people. If they don't, their guilt leads to suicidal behavior and a sense that they have committed a serious moral error." made me giggle the most.
    As I know plenty of nasty straight people I'm going to assume they lost their sense of decency from a gay person walking past?
    The "homosexual issue" is purely and wholly based on falsehoods that you perpetuate. I've never experienced any of these issues you're talking about and I'm active in the gay community.
    I hope for the sense of those in good health and well-being that they ignore you before you poison their minds with this preposterous BS.

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  33. It would be great to see this much fire and defense surrounding the banning "men of color" issue as well, but a victory it's a victory nevertheless. TN & GA should be ashamed of themselves, as well as the rest of the southern states who refuse to recognize PHA as well as brothers of a different sexual orientation.

    Lee Threats 3° 33°
    PHA James A. Myers #349
    James A. Henry Consistory #48 AASRSJ
    Nashville, TN

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    1. Lee,
      Actually there has been at various times over the years (recall the Gate City lodge incident in Atlanta 6 years ago). But PHA recognition is a slightly different issue, because both GLs in each jurisdiction are involved, and both sides have very outspoken critics (with the B.S. fig leaf cover story that it's really a "problem" of exclusive territorial jurisdiction, and certainly NOT racism...).

      It is my firm belief that joint recognition will happen in the remaining 9 states, but only by way of the respective GMs in each state meeting away from an official gathering, settling differences privately, convincing their grand lines of the correctness of the decision, and then each presenting it to their annual communications as a done deal. Otherwise, going about it with long term study committees and other bureaucratic niceties gives too many naysayers on both sides too many opportunities to find ways to object.

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