Grand Masters across the US and internationally continue to weigh in on the actions of the Grand Lodges of Tennessee and Georgia regarding homosexual behavior and cohabitation. Instead of making constant, individual posts about this as they are issued, I am going to try to restrict them all to this one single message from now on, and will try to update it as more occur (if they do). Further, I am listing links below to previous posts about the subject, so the whole story can be followed from this one place. New developments are listed chronologically, so scroll to the bottom of the page to see the latest updates.
If a major action DOES occur, such as one Grand Lodge actually suspending Masonic relations with another, that will, of course, warrant its own post, because it's important enough to affect Freemasons in an entire state or two. But the bulk will be put here.
Hopefully, this will finally put a stop to what may look to some like a constant flood, which is not what I intended. It just sort of kept growing. As I have said, I am no gay rights advocate or protester, but I do have my own strong views about it as regards the fraternity.
(And to answer a question posed in several emails lately, no, I am not gay. I have happily been with the same lovely woman since I was 17 - coming up on 40 blissful years. Thanks for asking.)
I am simply trying to keep up with this story as it unfolds.
The Story So Far...
Wikipedia Entry: Supreme Court Rules on Obergefell v. Hodges (Same Sex Marriage Case)
Supreme Court Ruling: Obergefell v. Hodges (Complete Text)
• 10/21/10: Grand Lodge of Kentucky Votes Against Gay Ban
• 4/15/11: Openly Gay Mason Suspended in Kentucky
• 10/28/15: Anti-Gay, Fornication Edict Upheld In Georgia
• 3/8/16: GL of CA Breaks With GA and TN
• 3/10/16: A Reflection On What Is Tearing Us Asunder
• 3/14/16: GM of TN Responds To Actions of CA and DC; Grand Secretary of DC Clarifies Effects of Edicts on Members
• 3/14/16: GM of Maine Weighs In
3/17/16: GM of Wisconsin Statement
Yesterday, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin F&AM, MW Franklin J. Struble, issued a statement that was sent to all lodges regarding the position of his GL on lawful homosexual marriages, and his opinion concerning the suspension of recognition by other GLs.
Click image below to enlarge:
3/18/16: Protesters Outside of AASR House of the Temple
A small clot of protesters appeared yesterday in Washington D.C. on the steps of the Scottish Rite SJ House of the Temple. In a town like DC where mass demonstrations are commonplace, this hardly amounted to more than a minor couple of pests. But it was undoubtedly an annoyance to those having to use the main entrance. A local Brother says friends in a nearby apartment building have observed that they seem to "wax and wane and to attract tourists."
Another Brother reports that when one of them was asked why they were protesting, he replied, "I'm not sure. We were just paid $15 an hour to be here."
(Hmmm. Ever hear of Crowds On Demand? Because that's exactly what this sounds like is going on.)
Nevertheless, it was trumpeted as a triumph by the organizers.
From the MasonBigotry website today:
Demonstrators were on scene at the Scottish Rite Supreme Council in Washington, D.C to demand that "Sovereign Grand Commander" Ronald Seale immediately cease awarding degrees to members of the discriminatory lodges in Georgia, Tennessee and elsewhere who openly ban gay and African-American members. By awarding degrees to these members, they are essentially discriminating against the black and the gay communities because they are UNABLE TO JOIN the masons in the first place and obtain the first three degrees needed to receive Scottish Rite degrees. Though this may sound like a complicated issue, at the core of it is the fact that since African-Americans and gays are unable to join these lodges, that any dealings with them to legitimize them are supporting the discrimination. If Mr. Seale does not wish to do this, he could decide to award the first three degrees to African-Americans and gays in the discriminatory jurisdictions. If he does not take either step, he is part of the bigotry. The protests will continue until this matter is resolved--this issues [sic] is far too important for the typical Masonic inaction and pontificating.
3/21/16: Nashville TV Story on Upcoming GL of TN Vote
WKRN, the ABC affiliate in Nashville has picked up the story about the GL of TN's upcoming vote on Thursday to remove the sexual behavior wording from their code
Read or watch it HERE.
3/22/16: New Grand Lodge of Georgia Code Published with Homesexual Ruling
Many Masons, both inside and outside of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, have asked what the exact wording was of the Grand Master's Edict #2015-4 that was upheld and became Masonic law in the subsequent annual communication of the GL of GA in 2015.
Here is the new rule, officially printed as 77.108.1 in the newly published Georgia code book for 2016:
3/22/16: National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered' Picks Up TN Story
The sexual behavior rules in the Grand Lodge of Tennessee's upcoming annual meeting on Thursday moved to the national stage today with the airing of the story on National Public Radio's evening news program, All Things Considered.
To read or listen, CLICK HERE.
3/23/16: More Nashville TV Coverage of TN Grand Lodge Vote Airs
Nashville's Fox TV affiliate, WZTV-17, has also picked up the story about the vote on Thursday by the Grand Lodge on Tennessee as to whether or not to strike the sexual behavior language from their code.
The Tennessee Grand Lodge of Masons is considering ending its ban on gay members.
The Masons could vote on the change Thursday.
Matthew Johnson is among the mason who hope the change is made.
"Freemasonry as a whole in the vast majority of cases does not discriminate against homosexuals but we do in Tennessee and in my opinion that's not in line with Freemasonry," said Johnson.
The issue of gay members came to the forefront last year when the Masons suspended Mark Henderson and Dennis Clark.
Henderson says his lodge knew they were a same sex couple but no one questioned it.
That changed when the couple got married.
"We're upset about it because there's a lot we put into it to begin with as far as our time our talents and even our funds," said Henderson.
Henderson says he's not sure if he'll come back to the Masons if the organization repeals its ban.
Chase Geiser is among those pushing for the change.
Geiser demitted from Tennessee's Lodge in protest of the rule.
"I think it has the potential to change lives for the better and therefore society for the better but I can't. It's unconscionable for me to be a member of an organization that discriminates on the basis of sexuality," said Geiser.
Fox 17 reached out to the Masons Grand Master for comment but that call was not returned.
To read or watch the story, CLICK HERE.
3/31/16: MWBro. David Perry, Grand Master of California, issued a letter via email today, clarifying his reasons for suspending Masonic relations with GLs of Tennessee and Georgia. It reads, in part:
I suspended recognition of these grand lodges for two reasons. First, their actions are a violation of the General Regulations of Freemasonry. Second, their actions threaten the reputation and good standing of our grand lodge. In late February, I met in person and separately with the grand masters of Masons in Georgia and Tennessee. In these meetings, I learned firsthand what was occurring in their jurisdictions. I also used these meetings to explain how the actions of these grand lodges were affecting the Grand Lodge of California. I based my actions on what I learned in these meetings.
The actions of these grand lodges violate the General Regulations of Freemasonry because they impose a particular religious (if not also political) view on the fraternity. This particular view is not one on which all men in this country agree. No regular grand lodge may do this. Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 and the requirements for recognition make this clear. All grand lodges are sovereign, but under our California Masonic Code, each must adhere to the General Regulations for us to recognize them. Further, the actions of one sovereign grand lodge can affect other grand lodges, as has happened in these instances.
Within weeks of the actions by these grand lodges, the Grand Lodge of California was the focus of protests and our community partners began to question their association with Freemasonry. Protests took place in front of our Grand Lodge building during the World Conference, at public facilities where we were conducting ceremonies, and at schools and universities where we have established important programs. Our grand lodge was disinvited to public activities as a result.
Believing that something is wrong, but being reluctant to do anything about it, subjects Freemasonry to a certain understandable scrutiny by Masons and the public. In suspending recognition of these grand lodges, we make it clear that the actions of these grand lodges are wrong and that the Grand Lodge of California does not condone these actions.
The whole letter is available online HERE, and includes links to supporting documents.
4/1/16: The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan F&AM, MW Richard D. Wisely, issued the following statement concerning Tennessee and Georgia yesterday to be read at all stated meetings in his jurisdiction:
(Click to enlarge)
Also on April 1st, MW Bro John C. Green, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of AF&AM of Canada in the Province of Ontario, issued the following statement to members in his monthly communique:
"Recently, some of you have heard about the significant activities of the Grand Lodges of Georgia and Tennessee who recently decided to exclude men from the rights and privileges of Freemasonry on the basis of their sexual orientation. Let me assure you that this Grand Jurisdiction does not agree with such actions. Membership in Freemasonry in Ontario is based on the integrity of an individual under the qualifications with which we are all familiar ie. free born , mature age and well and worthily recommended. The important values or tenets of Masonry are brotherly love, relief and truth.
The important values of a member of our craft should be tolerance and understanding. Brethren, I want you to consider living the fundamental principles you professed when you became a Mason."
4/13/16: GM of Washington Issues Statement
The Grand Master of Washington F&AM, Most Worshipful Donald G Munks, issued the following statement via the official "Freemasons of Washington" Facebook page:
One of the many lessons we learn in Freemasonry is that it is the internal, not the external qualifications that should recommend a man to be made a Mason. As to additional qualifications, those are clearly defined in the Washington Masonic Code, Section 18.02 ~
Every petitioner in order to be eligible for the degrees of Masonry must:
A. Be at least eighteen years of age,
B. Have the senses of a man, especially those of Hearing, Seeing and Feeling,
C. Be a believer in a Supreme Being,
D. Be capable of Reading and Writing; and
E. Possess no disability in his body that would render him incapable of conforming reasonably what the Degrees respectively require of him.
The recent actions by the Grand Lodge of Georgia and the Grand Lodge of Tennessee to exclude men due to sexual orientation and premarital cohabitation have cast an unwanted pall upon our beloved Craft, and are contrary to the wisdom of those who long ago forbade the interference of religion and politics from the administration of our Fraternity. It is well to remember that “a Freemason’s Lodge is the temple of peace, harmony, and brotherly love; nothing is allowed to enter which has the remotest tendency to disturb the quietude of its pursuits.” The actions of these Grand Lodges have disrupted that quietude.
While I as your Grand Master acknowledge the Masonic sovereignty of Georgia and Tennessee to govern their own Jurisdictions, I disagree wholeheartedly with their actions as they are divisive in nature and codify an intolerance that is contrary to our Masonic principles. The Jurisdiction of Washington believes that Freemasonry is indeed the true import of the three great social treasures – Fraternity, Liberty, and Equality. Furthermore, the Jurisdiction of Washington welcomes & values the talents & capabilities of all men who meet our qualifications for membership. The design of Freemasonry is to UNITE men of every sect, country, and opinion; and to conciliate true friendship among those who would otherwise remain perpetually at a distance.
We are stronger for that diversity.
4/18/16: Grand Master of New Hampshire Issues Statement
The GM of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire issued a statement on the issue on April 16th (Click images to enlarge):
5/11/2016: Somebody Didn't Get The Memo
I was poking around on the web today and came across a current website for a recognized lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Georgia. The page has been regularly updated, but somehow the following note still exists under "How Do I Become A Mason?":
Can homosexuals be Masons?
Yes, and there are homosexual Masons.
There is, in this instance however, the additional consideration that some men may view homosexuality as being immoral, i.e., that homosexuals are not men of "good character". This is generally not due to any specific prejudice but rather due to religious belief (depending on how one interprets St. Paul, for example).
There is no official Masonic stance on the matter so, in practical terms, the determination of whether homosexuality is a moral or biological (or neither) consideration, as in society in general, is apt to vary by lodge.
5/12/6016: GL of NY Issues Statement About GA and TN
5/17/2016: Immediate Past Grand Master of Indiana Addresses GA and TN Issue
From the immediate PGM of the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, William A. Reiners' address to the assembled Worshipful Masters at Indiana's Annual Communication today:
"The current relationship between the Indiana Grand Lodge Jurisdiction and all other Jurisdictions remains intact, but the actions of Georgia and Tennessee have caused California and Washington D.C. to suspend fraternal relations. Sectarianism, the placing of ones belief’s ahead of others in a group including Masonry, has been one of the areas prohibited in the Lodge from the beginnings of organized Freemasonry. As Grand Master, I have determined there is none of the language found in Tennessee or Georgia requirements for membership in our code. Any good man, and coming well recommended, is not disqualified based on race, ethnicity, religion (so long as he believes in a supreme being) or sexual orientation. Remember, after the investigation, there is the ballot; I would hope no Mason would vote against a worthy petitioner for any of the above reasons. They are not a Masonic offense.
"Fifty years ago I attended the national meeting of my college fraternity. The main question was to lift the rule that all members had to be white and Christian. It was a far different time, but brothers, for the whole country, put their personal feelings aside, and the ban was lifted. I cannot believe that in a way, I am still engaged in a similar problem today. "A similarly worded statement by Reiners appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of the Indiana Freemason magazine. In that, he added:
"This issue personally pains me, because I am friends with both the GM and immediate PGM of GA and TN. I know each are good Masons, but in my opinion, PGM Hastings has inserted sectarianism into his Lodges. His actions were upheld at their Annual Communications in March [sic]. As I said, when I was installed, younger Masons are, for the most part, color-blind as well as accepting of gays."
5/30/2016: Phony Protester From San Francisco World Conference Event Reveals They Were Hired
Davy Rothbart who was a participant in the gay rights protest at the World Conference of Grand Masters in San Francisco last year reveals that their group was not exactly deeply committed to their cause. In fact, they were hired by an outfit called Crowds On Demand, who specializes in providing phony crowds for political causes, celebrities, or anything else its clients want to make seem to be "important."
Rothbart tells specifically about the Conference event in detail in an article in The California Sunday Magazine.
8/6/2016: California Cryptic Masons' Illus. GM Responds To Georgia and Tennessee Situation
The California Grand Council's Sword and Trowel magazine for the month of August features Most Illustrious Companion, Grand Master William Price’s letter to all California Cryptic Masons re Grand Master David Perry’s Edicts on Tennessee and Georgia.
(Click image to enlarge)
10/25/2016: Homosexual Ban Remains In GL of Georgia Following Vote at Annual Communication
12/17/2016: National Grand Lodge of France Withdraws Amity With Georgia and Tennessee Over Homosexual Rules
3/5/2019: Former Georgia GM (Douglas McDonald) Resigns From Fraternity