"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Homosexual Ban Remains in GL of Georgia

A resolution to remove the language banning homosexuals from Freemasonry in the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM's Code has failed late Tuesday afternoon. The resolution lost in a close 231-247 vote at the annual communication today.

There was a possibility that the failed resolution could be reconsidered and voted on again at Wednesday's session, but that did not happen.

From all reports, MW Drew Lane, Grand Master for 2015-16, did an outstanding job of running the proceedings with great dignity, fairness, and understanding. It could have been a highly contentious situation when the legislation came to the floor, and that did not happen. I also understand that one Past Grand Master made a passionate and persuasive statement in favor of the proposed bill that changed some minds.

At this time, the grand lodges of Georgia and Tennessee are the only two regular Masonic jurisdictions that have regulations in their codes that prohibit homosexuals from membership.

Earlier this year, grand lodges of California, the District of Columbia, and Belgium all withdrew amity with Georgia because of the edict and subsequent approval by the voting members affirming the homosexual ban, and numerous other grand lodges around the US and the rest of the Masonic world issued various statements condemning Georgia and Tennessee.

The Grand Lodge of Tennessee also had amity withdrawn by DC, CA and Belgium for its own homosexual ban, although that rule had been in place for over 30 years and had only recently been enforced.

Georgia and Tennessee Masons seeking regular, recognized, alternative membership options outside of the state that do not have residency requirements, SEE THIS POST.

For the complete background on this issue, SEE HERE.

UPDATED 10/26/2016


  1. Thank you for posting this update, as I was wondering what happened to this (in)famous case. The whole debacle makes me reflect on something that became more and more clear to as I studied the history of the Craft for various avenues of research. And it is something that great Masonic thinkers like Albert Pike highlighted sometimes (even with his own occasional contradictions around some of the same issues arguably). Namely, what history lamentably shows is that many Freemasons, lamentably, had very little idea what Freemasonry was actually about. What Pike and others noticed is that there was a definable history of people with political ends using Freemasonry in various periods for purposes far from its real ethos. Because of the unfortunate reality, which you Chris, have so well described as the phenomenon that "No one 'speaks' for Freemasonry" , there has been historically little real counter-action against such types continuing to misuse the Craft for politics in blithe ignorance of the deepest meaning of the Craft. And also no real attempt to counter the really incredible ignorance of Freemasonry's historical meanings, and aversion to its brilliant ethical lessons in tolerance. In sum, what this truly terrible case in Georgia shows is that ignorance is still going on. Amazingly what is continuing is essentially this--- a field in which many wise and tolerant people with the Craft's highest honors are forced to share that field with people with the exact same honors who literally don't have a clue about what Freemasonry means and has meant in history. They are a pure embarrassment in my view. And part of the reason why, even with all its fascinating and moving aspects, the Craft seems irrelevant to many. It is NOT. But it has some people who are a real drag on it. In my view, this rank ignorance should be named and recognized for what it is. If they want to continue after such identification, in the virtue of tolerance they should be allowed to. But without such identification it is making the accomplishments of so many significant people in the Craft seem less serious than they truly are. And that is a great shame!!

    1. I absolutely agree with the essence of your comment. I do have two points of contention: to my mind, Albert Pike was not exactly a "great Masonic thinker". He was prolific, he made many contributions, but I personally wouldn't ascribe Masonic greatness to him. Fame? yes; Greatness? eye of the beholder. YMMV.
      Secondly: I recently wrote a little essay on Tolerance. I wanted to cite examples within Freemasonry where Tolerance was taught. I could not and still cannot. I can find not a single mention of the word in our ritual, nor can I find allegorical or metaphorical references to it. There may be one or two oblique references, but I cannot agree that Freemasonry teaches "brilliant ethical lessons in tolerance". Would that it did. It's the one virtue that our ancient brethren seem to have omitted.

    2. Well, thank you Phil for that comment, as it is very intriguing to me. And I don't mind saying that I like it because it gives me convenient chance to expatiate on some avenues of thought of interest to me, in the scholarly sense. I think Albert Pike definitely does deserve the description of great Masonic thinker I think Pike was great because he took some of the key Masonic concepts and fleshed them out in very fascinating ways, which may inspire others to do the same in their own lives. I wrote an article published in Heredom on the Pike Library, in which I advanced the theory Pike was sort of a proto-hermeutical thinker, referring to more contemporary notions of thought. But I am careful to say that he was certainly not a systematic thinker, and the tendency to treat him by the normal standards of coherence misses something delightful and inspiring about what he was doing. So by that analysis, he one should talk of him as a "thinker", with the scare quotes hinting that his thoughts were suggesting some more mysterious sense of inter-religious sense of truth, which was far a ahead of its time, and perhaps, charitably put, ahead of PIke's own abilities. yet what he did accomplish is something quite special and lovely in an almost artistic sense. Personally, I feel that is the spirit in which one should read his odd works. I have myself been very inspired by him, and learned things from his curious books that I honestly learned nowhere else. And I have to say that by the time I read Pike for the first time, I was, I think, very well read in the history of religions, philosophy, and spirituality. That is why I call him "great". But I can well understand, given what I said about the context needed to understand him as a "thinker" at all, that some like you might reasonably agree. ----Let me just add that what Pike definitely was not as a "thinker" was something like a 19th Century counterpart to today's reactionary conservative. That is, by the standards of today's ideational conservatism, Pike would qualify in basically every way as a rather radical liberal with the 19th Century sense of that fraught term necessary to grasp the nuance here. There have been some, very unfortunatley, who have sought to make Pike into a very hide-bound thinker, and it just does not fit at all. In fact if you look at the sources in De Hoyos' definitive edition of Morals and Dogma you see that a huge portion are actually what would be categorized as liberal Christian thinkers of the 19th Century!!! . ----As to your very interesting question on Tolerance in Freemasonry, you are raising an issues and an intellectual conundrum that has been studied quite intersting including by myself , if I may say so. You are right in a way that there is no directly didactic rhetoric sitpualting tolerance in a way that would be like a analog to didactic or catechetical works from religious ideation of contemporaneous periods. But I have argued in a paper, that is is the wrong way to look at the issue. My article on Freemasonry's Midwifery of Religious Freedom makes a very ample case to describe how it was Freemasonry that really helped birth these notions of otlerance in the West. . So I can just refer you to Philalethes to read the whole argument. And they even gave me a lovely award for the paper, at a great lunch at a fine hotel in Crystal City outside DC to celebrate it, amongst other things!

    3. From the style and verbiage of your response, it's easy to see why you think Pike was a great Masonic thinker.
      I stand by my observation that I see no signs of the "brilliant ethical lessons in tolerance" (no scare quotes here) being taught in Freemasonry; didactically, empirically, dramatically, or otherwise.
      Congratulations on your award.

    4. Well, Phil, I think we may be stretching Brother Hodapp's sublimely grumpy tolerance for off-topic ruminations on his posting, but I will hazard one more go the issue. As to your first observation, I would interject Oscar Wilde's famous saying : "A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal." I'll take a thinker with some loose ends and underlying quirkiness over the deadly sincere anyday! --- But I cannot let you just depart with such a breathtaking misunderstanding of tolerance in Freemasonry. Entertain this simple thought experiment -- If Freemasonry is something by definition "veiled in symbols" , and those symbols in ritual and iconography were used to enshrine a social ambit where men of diverse class, station , rank, and most important religion, could all get along with each other, then what, pray tell does it mean inexorably? Thinkers like Habermas have described Freemasonry as important to the development of a social sphere in Western culture precisely because he and other scholars clearly recognize that in some basic way Freemasonry was a realm where all those diverse men could meet. This is a recognized historical and cultural fact. Ergo, the symbolic language of Freemasonry points clearly to the experience of tolerance, even though it did not do so in a "Sunday School" didactic way but in veiled symbols and rhetoic. (Didactic tropes are hardly what sophisticated speculative gentlemen would have wanted anyways!) Your view seems to be a naive positivism requiring tedious explicit statements and ignoring obvious cultural facts of a much more interesting nature. And btw, Hogarth satirized this desire for tedious rational explicitness in his Sleeping Congregation! Yawn!

  2. Masonry is surely about tolerance and diversity. How is it possible to initiate men into a universal brotherhood when this kind of discrimination exists. It compromises all of us.

  3. This doesn't surprise me at all. There are many good Masons in Georgia, and also many Masons in name only.

    1. Unfortunately, this is true everywhere, not just in Georgia. Not to absolve Georgia (or Tennessee), but as a wiser man than I once said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

  4. By the way, your "SEE THIS POST" link is broken

  5. Does the Grand Lodge of Georgia still enforce the ban on gay members?

    Gordon M
    PM Seaside Lodge 419
    Myrtle Beach, SC


Comments will not appear immediately, so be patient. I am forced to laboriously screen every post because I am constantly bombarded with spam. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers as far as I am concerned. If you post with an unknown or anonymous account, do not expect to see your comment appear.