Most Worshipful Brother M. David Perry, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge F&AM of California, has issued a statement about the recent actions in Georgia and Tennessee regarding gay men and Freemasonry. It reads:
You might have read about recent events in some US states including Georgia and Tennessee where Masonic grand lodges have adopted new rules or have enforced existing rules that discipline Masons because of their sexual orientation. Such rules and actions do not coincide with the principles of Freemasonry as practiced by the Grand Lodge of California and do not support what we understand as the great aim of our fraternity.
Freemasonry is a universal system which uses the tools and techniques of the old stonemasons’ guilds to illustrate simple moral and ethical principles. To this it adds a philosophical and spiritual framework for personal improvement. Freemasonry encourages its members to be better by improving their relationships with others, by practicing a life of tolerance, compassion, honesty, and the pursuit of justice. Freemasonry instructs its members to uphold and respect the laws of their government and not to undermine those laws. It attempts to make the world a better place by making its members better citizens of the communities in which they live.
Freemasonry may be found worldwide, in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Freemasonry works through local lodges. In California and elsewhere, some lodges are comprised of men only, some of women only and some of both men and women. Each lodge typically operates under a grand lodge, and there are a number of these grand lodges operating in California. Each grand lodge is independent and operates under its own set of rules as its members may decide.
With more than 50,000 members statewide, those lodges under the Grand Lodge of California are open to men of good character and faith, regardless of their race, color, religious beliefs, political views, economic station, sexual orientation, physical ability, citizenship or national origin. Our lodges currently work in English, Spanish, French, and Armenian.
Through this universal brotherhood, California Masons learn to be better husbands, better fathers, better friends, and better citizens. By appreciating our differences, we learn to focus on what unites us. Thus, the discussion of religion, politics, and business is not permitted in our lodges. In this way we live up to the centuries-old aim of our fraternity – to unite men of every country, sect, and opinion and cause true friendship among those who otherwise would have remained at a distance.
Sincerely and fraternally, M. David Perry, Grand Master
The letter can be seen online here.
UPDATE: On February 26th, 2016, MW R. Wesley Ing, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Utah F&AM, issued the following statement to all Masons in the state:
There are those today that believe as society changes so should Freemasonry. However, over the ages the basic tenets and principles of Masonry have proven to be unwavering and beyond reproach.
That being said The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Utah welcomes to its doors and admits to its privileges, worthy men of various creeds and classes. However, it insists that all men shall stand upon an exact equality. As this Grand Lodge does not concern itself with a Mason’s religious faith, ethnic background and or race, so neither does this Grand Lodge concern itself with a Mason’s sexual preference. All that is asked is that a Utah Freemason look well to his obligations and promote the good of the Fraternity within the confines of his lodge and the community around him.
Sincerely & Fraternally,
R. Wesley Ing
Grand Master, F&AM of Utah
And this statement now appears on the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia website:
In response to recent questions posed to this Grand Lodge on the qualifications and eligibility of men seeking membership in our constituent Lodges, we offer this statement of unwavering principles: Admission to membership in our lodges is extended to men of faith based upon their personal merit and good character, without reference to race, creed, sexual orientation, specific religion or national origin.
The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia dedicates itself to the diversity of the brotherhood of men who practice and study the initiatory rites and deep symbolism of Freemasonry in an effort to make ourselves better men – socially, morally and intellectually. Our Grand Lodge is a society of men who use single-gendered camaraderie and fellowship to provide motivation and drive for self-improvement, especially in the practice of our key aspirations: brotherly love, relief and truth.
The universality of our practice is reflected in the broad range of backgrounds to be found here. Lodges here not only work in English, but in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Farsi, Turkish and Armenian. Our membership hails from every continent and represents every race and creed, as well as a broad range of national origins. Masonic visitors to this international city find unparalleled opportunities to visit a Lodge that reminds them of home – wherever that home may be.
However, the concept of universality is not only an international paradigm. It enjoys equal importance in our welcoming of men whose varied backgrounds and practices in their private and professional lives would normally keep them at a perpetual distance. The diversity of our membership, in terms of race, creed, sexual orientation, specific religion and national origin is thus seen as an asset, rather than a liability. Civility and kindness is the rule for all interaction, thus discussions of politics, religion and business are prohibited in the Lodge room. In this way, we hold that men become brothers by leaving divisions at the door, and taking strength from a shared appreciation of the common aspirations of all men for their own betterment, and for improving themselves through service as respected members of their communities, despite their outward differences.
Our dedication to diversity was not born in Washington, DC. Worldwide Masonic law and practice from the days of Anderson’s Constitutions clearly disfavors the exclusion of men based upon modes of belief, backgrounds or lifestyles that enjoy legal protection in their societies. Therefore, today we say, “Any man can be a D.C. Freemason, but not every man can be one.” And our tradition of over five hundred years of inclusion continues to patiently await those with the imagination, will and energy to dedicate themselves to the elevation of the human race.
On March 1st, the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction declared their position on the subject of homosexual members by posting on their website,
"Membership in the Scottish Rite is based upon personal integrity and good character, without reference to race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or national origin."They represent several hundred thousand of the 550,000 U.S. Scottish Rite Freemasons, from 35 jurisdictions.