The decision of the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia to interdict the access of gay men to the lodges in its jurisdiction has launched an enormous bluster among Masonic Obediences in the States and Europe, with some Grand Lodges cutting masonic relations with Georgia and others (Grand Loge National Francaise) planning to do so. The debate is not new and needs to be confronted according to the values and doctrine that Freemasonry stands for, unequivocally. Freemasonry is an Order of men. It has been like this in the last 300 years. Possible reasons for that are that the primitive statutes of the Order that were written by clerics. A time when women have no public role. Since then, a lot of things have changed and women’s lodges become a reality, everywhere. Traditional Obediences acknowledge their existence but consider them ‘irregular’ and interdicted by the Landmarks.
Gay men have won in recent years rights, an equal condition to heterosexuals, recognized by modern states, in the United States and Europe. The European Convention of Human Rights expressively protects the right of minorities and insofar the rights of gays, lesbian and other sexual minorities. Several states recognize by law the marriage of homosexuals and a few of them even the adoption of children by gay couples. Other states still don’t recognize that type of partnerships. In terms of masonic uses and traditions and in accordance with most of masonic regulations, the double requisite for a profane to be admitted to the ranks of freemasonry is to be a free man of good report. If the condition of a ‘free man’ is intuitive as someone who is responsible for his acts and is self-determined the polemic question is if the condition of ‘good report’ can be applied to gay men.
The abstract concepts need to be interpreted according to the circumstances of time and society. What may be assessed of ‘good report’, one hundred years ago, is discharged as such, nowadays. The same applies to social attitudes that are considered “normal” today in comparison to the past. Homosexuality has been, slowly, considered in contemporary societies an acceptable form of behaviour. It has been accredited to the conception of life and society that every citizen (in a free society) has the right and independence to have. Anyone has the right to protect the intimacy of his life without any interference from public authorities. Insofar, it seems fair to extract from this reasoning that Masonic authorities should prevent themselves from interfering in the personal options of the members of the Craft. It is in the capacity of the Lodges to judge and assess if gay men can be considered acceptable to be admitted to their ranks. This is a decision that appears only entitled to them and not to an administrative upper level authority. In this sense, is both legitimate to have Lodges accepting this type of candidates and others rejecting them.
To take this issue, that has political and religious implications (and readings) to the level of relationships between Obediences seems to go too far and create a worrying precedent.
The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Andrew Lane, Jr.,, has issued a response to the positions of the GLs of California, the District of Columbia, and the regular Grand lodge of Belgium, who all withdrew amity with Georgia last week in response to their recently adopted rule that prohibited Masons from engaging in homosexual activity and from co-habitating without benefit of marriage. The Grand Loge Nationale Francaise is considering an equivalent measure according to the French press. The issue is the acceptance of gay men in Lodges.