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


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Immediate MEPGM of Grand Encampment Responds To Louisiana Edict

On Monday of this week I reported that MW Martin J. Reinschmidt, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana F&AM, had issued an Edict withdrawing recognition of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States. (See GM of Louisiana Withdraws Recognition of Knights Templars).

To my knowledge, as of 5PM on Saturday the Edict remains in force. I will update if that situation changes.

I have just received the following response and documents from MEPGM Duane L. Vaught, now the immediate Most Eminent Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment, regarding the situation with Louisiana.

His message and all documents are presented below in their entirety, per his permission:

Brothers, Sir Knights and others:

Freemasonry offers many wonderful experiences to the loyal mason. On Monday of our Grand Encampment Triennial we were off to a good start. During the public session on that morning we recognized guests from around the world. A senior Pediatric Ophthalmic surgeon and official of the American Association of Ophthalmology literally cried tears of joy over our agreement to provide two million dollars of support to a project to help save the sight of children, we were on track to recognize Prince Hall Templary and provide a fun and meaningful experience for our members.

I was greatly distressed therefore to learn later that same day of this blog presenting a false impression regarding our relationship with the Grand lodge of Louisiana. I certainly understand the legitimate interest by our members to become aware of the actions of the Grand Master of Louisiana. I regret that the commentary failed to make any effort to contact us or to obtain complete information about the nature of these unfortunate circumstances. It appears that Mr. Hodapp has been provided some incomplete information that he regretfully used for the basis of his analysis rather than simply presenting the Grand Master’s edict which would have been unquestionably reasonable.

We were informed of the expulsion of Mr. du Treil. We are required to suspend his membership and will do so. The many accusations that we do not recognize the Grand Lodge expulsion are wholly false. We do not for a moment question their actions.

Every action against a member must comply with some process. Failure to do so is not simply unfair but illegal under the laws of every state. In some cases the process is to issue an order. I am told that the process in Louisiana Grand Lodge was a vote of the members. If so it would have been illegal for them to do so except by this process. Our process is through a trial in Mr. du Treil’s local Commandery. It is not an order by me, which would have been illegal. It is not by simply changing the membership records to show expulsion. It is not a vote of the members of the Grand Encampment. It is not the waiving of a wand or the casting of the spell expecto patronum. It is a trial which much like suspension for nonpayment of dues requires charges (notice) and approximately a month later a 2 minute trial with an automatic guilty verdict unless one can prove that the expulsion did not occur. Only evidence that the expulsion does not exist would be a valid defense. Claims that an expulsion should not exist is not a valid defense.

This process should have been commenced immediately by the Knights Templar of Louisiana. If it had the suspension would have already occurred. The Grand Commander should have seen that the trial occurred and he has repeatedly informed me that he knows of this requirement. Many interesting questions surround the actions of Grand Commander Gates since he is also an attorney for the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and represented the Grand Lodge when they lost a court hearing resulting in a court order to enjoin or bar the Grand Lodge from suspending Mr. du Treil.

It is the Grand Commander of Louisiana, and not me that has failed to comply with the duties of his office and he has been removed from office for his conduct in this matter. The new Acting Grand Commander, former Deputy Grand Commander, has been ordered by me to repair the deficiencies of his predecessor by seeing to it that charges are promptly filed in Louisiana over the Masonic membership matter so that trial may proceed.

We have been accused of allowing a suspended mason to attend a tiled Templar meeting. We are innocent. First, although he is expelled from Freemasonry, he is not suspended from Templary yet. Second, Mr. du Treil did not sit in a tiled Templar meeting this week and to my knowledge not since his expulsion.

The Grand Master of Louisiana sent me a letter by internet on August 15 (first seen by me during the Knight Templar Eye Foundation Trustees meeting the next day) That “If you do not accept my request, and allow Frank Du Treil Jr. to be present at the formal business conclaves during your Triennial Conclave ...” The letter also stated “I am instructing all Knights Templar who hold masonic membership in a lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana not to be present at any formal and tyled conclave of Knights Templar with Frank N Du Treil Jr.”

Simply put, The Grand Master of Louisiana did not want Frank du Treil to attend a tiled conclave and he did not do so. The Edict was issued on the basis of the false claim that he did.

I have here provided a copy of the August 15 letter from the Grand Master of Louisiana, the letter to the Grand Master of Louisiana relative to his edict which was based on incorrect information, and the order of removal of Grand Commander Gates from office for failure to fulfill the duties of his office. I would beg an interested person to read the documents himself as well as the previously posted Edict. A wise person should judge for himself based on all the facts. “Clearly seen as an affront”, “which is certainly his right” and “pretty cut and dried decision” are easy opinions to throw out when a question is simplified by the omission of most of the data.

In summary

  1. Mr. Frank du Treil is an expelled mason.
  2. He is not yet suspended by Templary because of the failure to fulfil the duties of his office by a Grand Commander who is an attorney for the Grand Lodge. That Grand Commander has been removed from office.
  3. The matter is subject to litigation between the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and several others which is none of our business as Templars
  4. The Grand Master of Louisiana’s edict punishes the members of his state and all of Freemasonry for a violation that did not occur.
But read the documents and see for yourself. You shouldn’t believe everything you see on the internet.


Edict (for Reference)

Text of message to Chris Hodapp

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Grand Encampment Recognizes Prince Hall Templars

The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA meeting at their 67th Triennial Conclave in Indianapolis this week has elected Sir Knight Jeffrey N. Nelson of Bismarck, North Dakota (photo) as Most Eminent Grand Master for 2018-2021.

Other officers elected were:

  • SK Michael Burke Johnson of Crowheart, WY has been elected as R.E. Deputy Grand Master 
  • David Joseph Kussman of Anaheim, CA, R.E. Grand Generalissimo 
  • SK Jeffrey A. Bolstad. Lewistown, MT, R.E. Grand Captain General 
  • SK Bobby Blackman Simmons, Georgia, R.E. Grand Treasurer 
  • SK Lawrence E. Tucker, Bellaire, TX , R.E. Grand Recorder 
  • Reverend and SK Arthur F. Hebbeler, III, Catonsville, MD, R.E. Grand Prelate.

    According to reports from Sir Knights attending the Triennial this week, the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA has, by acclamation, officially recognized the Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America. I have not seen the official wording of this decision yet, so I don't know of any details at the moment.

    Monday, August 20, 2018

    GM of Louisiana Withdraws Recognition of Knights Templars

    MW Martin J. Reinschmidt, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana F&AM, has just issued Edict No. 2018-02, withdrawing recognition of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States. As of now, no Louisiana Freemason may currently sit in any Templar conclaves, meetings or assemblies in or outside of that state that bear allegiance to the Grand Encampment.

    The news comes on the opening day of the 67th Templar Triennial Conclave in Indianapolis today.
    Frank N. DuTreil, Jr.

    At the annual communication of Louisiana earlier this year, their Grand Lodge voted to expel Past Grand Master 2012-13 Frank N. DuTreil, Jr. (photo) from the fraternity. (He had been previously suspended in June 2017, according to their 2017 Annual Proceedings, which is easily available online. The suspension was overturned in July 2017 by vote of the GL, and DuTreil was subsequently reprimanded.) However, according to reports out of Louisiana over the weekend, Knights Templar Grand Master, Most Eminent Duane L. Vaught and the Grand Encampment allegedly did not honor that expulsion, and permitted DuTreil to remain, not only a Sir Knight, but to continue serving as the Department Commander for the South Central Region.

    DuTreil was reportedly permitted to attend the Triennial's public events today and was introduced during the opening this morning. This was clearly seen as an affront by the Grand Master of Louisiana.

    Duane L.Vaught,
    Grand Master Knights Templar
    Longstanding practice in the regular, recognized Masonic world is that an expulsion from a Mason's home jurisdiction is to be honored by the appendant bodies, and the member be likewise expelled from all Masonic groups. 

    A similar impasse occurred many years ago in Arkansas when the Shrine failed to honor an Arkansas Mason's expulsion in that jurisdiction. The result of that action was that the Shrine to this day is no longer affiliated with or recognized by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, and Masons in that state are not permitted to be Shriners. Hopefully, this current imbroglio with Louisiana and the Knights Templar won't become that  drastic.

    In MW Reinschmidt's Edict, he quotes Section 202 of the Constitution of the Grand Encampment:
    "When a Templar has been suspended or expelled from his Lodge or Chapter or Council where required, for any reason, he shall be suspended or expelled, as the case may be, from his Commandery. (1988, pp.208-09)
    The Triennial continues in Indianapolis this week, and election results of new officers will be announced soon. Rather than wait a few days for the election of a new Grand Master of Templars, the GM of Louisiana chose to take the nuclear option, which is certainly his right. Appendant bodies are subordinate to the grand lodge within a jurisdiction, so this was a pretty cut and dried decision on his part.

    The Edict does carefully point out that Louisiana Commanderies CAN continue to operate, as long as they are not holden to the Grand Encampment. This is the result of the fact that Louisiana's first Knights Templar commanderies did not receive their original charters from the Grand Encampment of the USA, but from pre-GEKT New York sources. But I will leave that explanation to others far better versed in this minutiae than myself. (Besides, Louisiana Freemasonry ALWAYS turns into an argument when their origins are discussed...)

    Edict (click images to enlarge)
    Excerpts, Constitution of Grand Encampment (click to enlarge)

    By the way, in other news, Pete Normand reminded me that today, August 20th is the Feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), patron of the Knights Templar.

    UPDATE AUGUST 21, 2018, 5:15PM:

    I spoke by phone this afternoon with Most Eminent Grand Master Duane L. Vaught of the Grand Encampment. I have offered to post any statement or rebuttal that he, the GEKT, its grand officers, or its legal counsel wish to issue, in full and without any opinion or commentary on my part. With the Triennial continuing to dominate their attention this week - along with my own erratic posting schedule while on the road this month - that may not be immediate. But if they choose to do so, I will post it on this blog in as timely a manner as I am able.

    UPDATE AUGUST 25, 2018 6:30PM:

    I have just posted MEPGM Duane Vaught's response to this blog entry, along with supporting documents by him. 

    UPDATE AUGUST 27, 2018:

    Colorado Knight Templar (and law student) Ben Williams has posted an extremely detailed delineation on the Rocky Mountain Mason blogsite of the incidents and actions leading up to DuTreil's original suspension and ultimate expulsion from the Grand Lodge of Louisiana.Williams is arguing that DuTreil could NOT YET be expelled from the GEKT because due process hadn't been followed.

    See: Why the Grand Lodge of Louisiana Should Reinstate Recognition of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar

    Thursday, August 16, 2018

    Alas, My Brethren! Death of Three Brothers

    Alice, Wiley and I are continuing our trip across the western United States, and we've stopped for a bit in Southern California to visit my family before turning back eastward. But the last ten days have brought news of three unexpected deaths which have affected me deeply, and I wanted to take the opportunity to mark the passing of these three noteworthy brethren — Donald C. Seeley, T. Edward Page, and John Slifko. 

    Ernest Hemingway wrote, "Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another." Each of these three brethren lived very different lives, achieved very different milestones, affected very different people, but they 'lived respected and die regretted'. They leave this world better than they found it, but it is nonetheless an emptier place without them today.

    WB Donald C. Seeley

    On August 2nd, my longtime friend Worshipful Brother Donald Crosby Seeley of Indianapolis passed away at the age of 79 of natural causes. Don was one of a tiny handful of dedicated brethren who kept my mother lodge, Broad Ripple Lodge No. 643 from closing its doors during its troubled years of 1998-2001. He was our master ritualist for such a very long time. Scores of our members have Don to thank for conferring their degrees over the years, for mentoring so many of us, and for holding us all to the highest of standards. Don was that rare ritualist who truly understood the words he delivered and the messages they imparted, and his delivery was always precise and genuine.

    For many of us from the north side of Indianapolis, Don will always be King Solomon.

    A bit of trivia for the handful of us who fondly remember the days of pioneering Indianapolis radio station WNAP (the Wrath of the Buzzard!") with its notorious raft race. Don was the station's sales manager for many of those great years, and he also initiated our late Brother "Big John" Gillis into Broad Ripple in the 1990s.

    Don's memorial service was held at our lodge last Friday, and his cremains are to be interred later this month in Michigan City, where he was born in 1939. I shall miss him, but I will always be able to close my eyes and hear his own sonorous delivery reflected back in the voices of countless of my lodge brethren in the coming years. That is a noble legacy he leaves behind which few others can ever claim.

    WB T. Edward 'Tracy' Page

    Yesterday, Wednesday August 15th, Worshipful Brother T. Edward 'Tracy' Page went to the door of his home to meet a longtime family friend and former client, and was apparently shot and killed by the 83 year old man. Police have arrested his attacker, but no one has yet revealed any motive in the senseless killing. Tracy was an attorney in Hobart, Indiana, and was well known in the community. This tragedy has shocked everyone in the region, and devastated the entire Indiana Masonic family. (Updated information and details about the murder have been reported on Friday HERE.)

    Tracy served both as an attorney and a part-time judge in Lake County, Indiana (he was known for wearing a red robe in court, in imitation of English judges). He was just days away from retirement this month, and he had intended to teach law in his retirement years. He was deeply respected and extremely well-liked, which makes this news so inexplicable.

    He was a kind and generous gentleman and Mason. Tracy was currently serving this year as the Worshipful Master of Hobart's M. L. McClelland Lodge No. 357 and he was an enthusiastic Scottish Rite Mason and Sir Knight in Valparaiso Commandery of Knights Templar. He was also the real-life brother of famed sportscaster and Mason, Paul Page of Indianapolis. 

    Visitation for Tracy will be 
    Friday, August 24th at the Geisen Funeral Home 606 E 113th Ave, Crown Point, IN, from 3 to 8PM. (219) 663-2500. 

    A Masonic funeral will be held at 10AM on Saturday, August 25th at McCelland Lodge in Hobart Indiana, and services will conclude there. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to The Scottish Rite Dyslexic Centers or The Shriner’s Children Hospitals.

    John Slifko, PhD

    Finally, I was just forwarded a message about the death today of John Slifko after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. When I first joined the fraternity in the late 1990s, John's name frequently came up throughout the online Masonic community, especially in the esoteric realm. He straddled both the regular and irregular Masonic—as well as the academic—worlds, and at about that time, he and professor Margaret Jacob were organizing the Roosevelt Center for the Study of Civil Society and Freemasonry at UCLA. 

    John's Masonic interests ran more in the direction of French-derived Freemasonry, and he was briefly associated with the ill-fated Grand Orient of the United States. But because he was so widely involved in the fraternity's esoteric aspects rather than personal controversies or political considerations, he was welcomed a voice of reason and civility amidst the turmoil of that experiment. John's interest was always in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge, wherever it led, regardless of whose brand name was on the letterhead. Because of his winning personality, sharp intellect, and wide interests, he made lifelong friendships around the globe in nearly every avenue of Masonic philosophy and obediences. He was truly unique in the Masonic world, and we need many more like him.

    John and I corresponded off and on over the last 20 years, and we spoke by phone on several occasions. His illness was diagnosed in 2013, and worse, his wife Belinda was also diagnosed with her own cancer that very same year. John's was pernicious, and he attempted to fight it with every resource available. Sadly, he lost that battle today.

    Rather than attempt to patch together his many achievements over the years, I will quote from his longtime friend Eogan Ballard's  The Hedge Mason blog entry today where I read the news of his passing:
    Those who knew John knew he was no stranger to the world of Freemasonry. Those who did not know the man or his character may not have not realized that he frequently played a role behind the scenes to avoid controversy and to assure positive outcomes in any venture to which his name was attached. The path he trod was always guided by the highest ethics.

    In his career he brushed shoulders and maintained relationships with some significant figures in American Cultural life. He maintained a communication with and interviewed Burl Ives, and was the personal secretary to Manly P. Hall for some time. He maintained close ties with people and organizations involved with Freemasonry and esoteric studies in Europe, North America, and Latin America.

    John Slifko was an expert in urban planning and Freemasonry. He graduated from San Francisco State University in 1987 with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Geography. In 1989, John Slifko received his Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and more recently received a Doctorate in Geography from the same institution. He served with Councilwoman Ruth Galanter from 1988 to 1989 as a Planning Deputy for Los Angeles International Airport. John also worked as a Legislative Aide and a Field Representative in Congress for eight years.

    As Founder and Co-Director of the Roosevelt Center for the study of Civil Society and Freemasonry, John Slifko raised funds to support scholars and gave lectures, and tirelessly promoted the academic study of the fraternal organization of Freemasonry. He was a member of the Association of American Geographers, the American Historical Association, The John Dewey Society, and the Academic Society for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism. John Slifko volunteered for The Midnight Mission, which takes the homeless off of Skid Row and rehabilitates them into self-sufficient members of society. He contributed to the UCLA Foundation’s endowment, supporting the educational endeavors of the university. John Slifko was an active stock trader from 2000 to 2006, investing in green technologies.
    In his spare time, he pursued the study of geographical mapping and exploration, as well as archeaoastronomy, the study of how past cultures understood the sky. He also participated in Healthy City, a California information portal that helps residents connect to health and social services and community data.

    He was active in the quest to bring the Modern or French Rite to North America in recent years and instrumental in the work to bring about the foundation of the Higher Orders of Wisdom in North America and the Caribbean. It was in fact at his prompting that I chose to create the Hedge Mason Blog. He was active in the foundation of and the promotion of Project Awe, (Aesthetics of Western Esotericism) - Where Art meets Magic...

    I will update this message with funeral service information when I receive it. John's family urges those who wish to do something in his memory to make donations to The Hirsberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

    My heart goes out to all of the family and friends of these three outstanding brethren, and all I can offer in return for their contributions to my Masonic life are my fervent prayers and deepest condolences.

    Their columns have been broken, and their Brethren mourn.

    Requiescat in pace.

    Wednesday, August 08, 2018

    Camp Masonry in Ohio This Weekend, Aug 9-12

    Just a reminder that if you are in or near Ohio this weekend, the annual Camp Masonry retreat is going on near Toledo. Early bird events start tonight, Thursday August 9th and events run through Sunday August 12th.

    They will be conferring the Master Mason and Mark Master degrees, along with a DeMolay initiation before dinner on Friday evening. The MM degree will be conferred Saturday night, open-air by torchlight within the closed and tyled on-site fort.

    Speakers will include Robert Johnson, Jason Bryce, Al McClelland, Dan Hrinko, Dave Bacon, Harry Weaver, and Chad Simpson. Speakers and presentations are open to Masons only.

    For a complete list of events and speakers, consult the schedule HERE.

    All activities take place at:
    Camp Miakonda (DeVilbiss Scout Reservation)
    5600 W. Sylvania Avenue
    Toledo, Ohio

    This is an outdoor location, and campsites are still available (primitive only - no campers or RVs on site). I believe there are also indoor cabins there, as well. Please check the website for details.

    Questions, contact WB Jason Shamy

    From a description of Camp Masonry by Nick Thompson:
    In 2016, four lodges from the 11th Masonic District of Ohio planned the first Camp Masonry, an outdoor Masonic event held at the historic 160 wooded acre scouting reservation Camp Miakonda. Originally planned as an outdoor MM degree to be held in the frontier style fort, it quickly evolved into a weekend full of events and fellowship drawing participants from all over the district. Each of the four host lodges camped in one of the four bunk houses located in the fort’s corners and the fire-side fellowship that ensued will be remembered forever. The indoor council lodge made a perfect rainy day backup plan, and hosted an excellent BBQ dinner held in traditional festive board manner, completing the experience with an excellent guest speaker. As the sun set the Brethren processioned back to the fort by torch light and concluded a beautiful MM allegory. With the first year’s success, the four lodges decided to turn the weekend into a district sponsored event, inviting Master Masons from across Ohio and our neighboring states.

    Thursday, August 02, 2018

    UGLE Issues Transgender Policy

    The English and international press finally found a reason to publish positive articles about Freemasonry this week, but I suspect few Masons will find cause for celebration. Societal attitudes and a rapidly shifting legal landscape in Western countries over the last few years have thrust the overwhelmingly male-only Masonic fraternity into a potential cultural and litigious minefield. In the wake of increased legal protections for those who alter their gender, our 300 year old institution is being forced reluctantly into the spotlight.

    Two weeks ago on July 17th, the United Grand Lodge of England unveiled its official policy concerning Freemasons under their jurisdiction and the thorny topic of gender reassignment, i.e. transgenderism. In the last three days, articles began appearing in the press:
    There are many, many more, all saying essentially the same thing.

    Edward Lord

    So what set this off?

    UGLE Mason Edward Lord has been overseeing a gender identity drive as part of his role as chair of the City of London’s establishment committee. Lord identifies as non-binary and asks to be described by the pronoun "they.” His London committee was investigating ending sex segregation in women-only spaces like public bathrooms, dressing rooms, and locker rooms at well-known public landmarks. But in the midst of contentious online discussions over the matter it was revealed that Edward Lord is a Freemason, and his participation in the world's oldest and best known male fraternal group suddenly turned into a noisy public row. (See The Telegraph - "Gender equality campaigner defends Freemason membership".) He was branded as a hypocrite.

    This has come to the forefront now because earlier this year the UGLE sought legal advice to establish its new official policy regarding gender. Their policy was actually announced about three months ago, but it was not yet formalized. The new policy and guidance was just released to their 7,000 constituent lodges on July 17th, so the press is only now just picking up the story.
    According to several news sources, the UGLE is protected under English and European Union laws from legal accusations of gender discrimination because of Freemasonry's longstanding male-only admissions criteria. They are recognized in England and Wales under the law as a single-sex association.

    The problem arose, however, when existing UGLE Masons chose to undergo gender reassignment, which is when English law kicked in. The UGLE's male-only status does not protect them from accusations of discrimination against current members. According to the Huffington Post article, under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 a man who has joined the Freemasons cannot be excluded after transitioning because gender reassignment is a protected right under the law.

    The UGLE's full policy can be found on the UGLE website HERE.

    Highlights of the new gender policy include:

    A candidate for admission to Freemasonry under the jurisdiction of UGLE must be a man.

    Should a person who has undergone gender reassignment and has become a man apply to become a Freemason then his application must be processed in the same way as for any other male candidate.

    A Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason.

    A Freemason who becomes a woman is not required to resign from the Craft.
    If a person resigns from the Craft then they and their dependants might no longer be eligible for some of the benefits provided by the Masonic charities now or in the future.

    A Lodge may vote to exclude any member for sufficient cause. The following grounds would constitute unlawful discrimination and so could never constitute sufficient cause:
    • The fact that a member has legally become a woman;
    • A mistaken belief that a member has legally become a woman;
    • The fact that a member is in the process of transition from male to female; or
    • A mistaken belief that a member is in the process of transitioning from male to female.
    • Similarly a Lodge must not attempt to persuade a member to resign from the Lodge or discriminate against a member based on any of these grounds. A Lodge must not at any time require a member to prove that they are legally a man.
    Female members should still be greeted with the prefix “brother”. Alternatives to the formal suit and tie have been allowed, including a “smart dark skirt and top.”

    The question now is how will the rest of the Masonic world react to UGLE's policy. For those readers who are NOT Freemasons, UGLE is sovereign only amongst its chartered lodges. There is no worldwide governing body for the fraternity, and UGLE is just one of hundreds of jurisdictions. So saying "The Freemasons Have Changed Their Policy" applies only in English chartered lodges. 

    To my knowledge, I believe there is only one single U.S. grand lodge that has spelled out in its rules that a petitioner promises he is a naturally born man and will remain so (or words to that effect). I do know it was a hot topic two years ago at the COGMMNA and that other jurisdictions were considering adding such wording to their petitions. How many have actually done so is currently unknown.

    Certainly there will be U.S., African and Asian grand lodges that will agitate for yanking recognition of England now. There's no way to argue that their policy doesn't transgress the obligation most commonly sworn by Master Masons the world over. Admitting women into the fraternity under any circumstances will be widely seen as a violation of the ancient landmarks, even if it is England doing it. UGLE's historical status as the premiere grand lodge won't shield them in this situation, even if they insist that they are only following the law of their country. In reality, UGLE was between a rock and a hard place.

    From a purely pragmatic and crassly economic standpoint, resignations by angry existing members as a result of this change will no doubt far outnumber any initiations by trans-men and sympathetic-minded new petitioners. And there is a massive undercounted number of conservative and religious objectors who will doubtless become quite vocal as this proceeds. The arrival of a Brother in “smart dark skirt and top” at the Tyler's door in the U.S. will probably not go well. Bear in mind that all regulations are still in place regarding anonymous 'ball and cube' voting for candidates, and objections to visitors.

    On the other hand, many younger Freemasons have expressed the opinion online that this is merely a natural progression of society. In my own informal look at online discussions over the last few days I have noticed the sentiment that trans-men (women who have become men) are far more likely to be accepted and welcomed as Masons than existing male members who have become trans-women.  It appears that even the most open-minded and sympathetic Masons almost completely draw the line at permitting trans-women to remain in the fraternity, since the admission of women is vastly regarded as irregular, regardless of how the degrees were conferred originally. However, whether this sentiment translates into votes within grand lodges around the world when it comes time to alter rules in each jurisdiction is a very different question. 

    And then, of course, there is the law which must either be complied with, or fought out in the courts and the halls of governments.

    Voluntary associations are a tricky business these days when they clash with "social justice warriors" and government bureaucracies. Laws passed to stamp out "discrimination" can often lead to the death of an organization when forced to give up its longstanding foundational precepts. Moreover, laws can't force people to accept or socialize with others they don't like, don't agree with, or feel uncomfortable around, no matter how pure-hearted the intent. 

    Regardless of what occurs going forward, UGLE has thrown down the gauntlet now. I suspect phones are ringing and heads are exploding in grand lodge offices all over the globe.