The word is that the resolutions introduced to strike language from their code, identifying both co-habitation without marriage and homosexual behavior as Masonic offenses, failed. These legal, private activities between consenting adults, are nevertheless, grounds for trial and suspension in that state.
No further chance to attempt to change these rules can happen again until March 2017, unless the new incoming Grand Master does so during his year by edict.
It has also been said that a dedicated Grand Lodge officer was voted out of the line today, allegedly because of his views on the sexual behavior rules.
One Brother who was allowed to speak in favor of the resolution says he was "jeered and mocked" all the way back to his seat, and was actually openly threatened by another Brother.
I will update this post if I receive more details about the estimated vote numbers or percentages.
Both the Grand Lodges of California and Washington D.C. have suspended Masonic relations with Tennessee (as well as Georgia) over this issue. The Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium has suspended with Georgia, and was waiting on news of this vote today to decide whether to withdraw from Tennessee, which I suspect they will now do.
Other Grand Lodges in the US, as well as the Grande Loge Nationale Francaise, have expressed varying statements about it, as well. Whether other grand lodges across the U.S. and around the world now follow in the footsteps of CA and DC and withdraw fraternal relations with TN and GA remains to be seen.
For links to all previous stories about this situation, CLICK HERE.
I suspect Tennessee will lose a couple of hundred Masons over the next year, as dues notices are mailed and are merely ignored or tossed out with the trash. The Grand Lodge will duly report the falling statistics to the Masonic Service Association, and chalk up yet another year of losses, without ever once connecting actions with reactions. They will be mostly young men, and if anyone at the Grand Lodge level gives it anything more than a shrug, they will figure that Masonry just isn't appealing to young men anymore, for some strange reason...
The Nashville Tennessean newspaper has picked up the story this afternoon:
Freemasons in Tennessee voted overwhelmingly to uphold its ban on gay members Thursday during a members-only meeting in Nashville, according to Freemasons who witnessed the vote.
Two Freemasons confirmed the results to The Tennessean, but asked for anonymity since business conducted at the meetings is secret, and revealing it could have them kicked out of the organization. The vote took place at the Grand Lodge of Tennessee on Seventh Avenue North near Broadway.
The Grand Lodge of Tennessee did not return The Tennessean's request for comment. The organization has about 41,000 members in Tennessee and more than 300 lodges across the state, according to the Grand Lodge's website.
While the organization is secretive, bans on allowing gay men to participate in Tennessee and Georgia have prompted public discussion locally and globally, said Christopher Hodapp, the author of "Freemasons for Dummies," in a Thursday blog post.
Grand Masters nationally and internationally have weighed in on the debate, and California and Washington, D.C., grand lodges have suspended Masonic relations with Tennessee and Georgia because of it.
In the fall, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee suspended two Memphis Freemasons — Dennis Clark and Mark Henderson, who married in June after the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, according to Hodapp's blog. A handful of Nashville Freemasons have withdrawn from Tennessee chapters in order to speak out for the two men.
“I’m not gay myself, but I have friends who are, and I don’t think this is right, and it is something that will prevent younger members from joining the organization that has seen decreasing numbers since World War II,” said Nashvillian Chase Geiser on Monday.
Geiser, a 25-year-old Freemason who joined the order in 2011 and became a full member in 2012, said the grand lodges of Tennessee and Georgia have drawn particular criticism for their bylaws banning homosexual members.
In the Freemasons, Geiser said, each state’s grand lodge has its own constitutions and bylaws, separate from others nationally and internationally.
Geiser said the suspension of the two Memphis Freemasons has cast light on a broader cultural issue within the Freemasons for which many efforts have been made to combat.
Geiser said the organization saw a spike in membership following World War II, and then a large falloff in the baby boomer generation. Now, he said, many young men are looking to align themselves with socially conscious fraternal organizations. Some are looking to find a home among Freemasons and there is a difference of opinion between what he called “the old guard” and the new members, he said.
“There’s this cultural and ideological divide,” Geiser said. “Now, we are at 25 percent of the membership just after World War II. The average mason in Tennessee is a 69-year-old man.
“The older masons have very conservative Christian values,” he said. “The younger masons are theistic; we believe in a creator, but we don’t have a problem with homosexual marriage.”