I have the distinction of sharing some good news with you from Friendship 160. At our January Stated Communication we learned that the Grand Master had signed and the Grand Lodge had approved of an amendment to our bylaws. No hooting, clapping, cheers or jeers were heard in the Lodge that night. Some smiles broke out and a few heads nodded, some Brothers sighed relief. This was but one of many points of business we had on a busy agenda. No comment was made about this news even after the Lodge closed and we rejoined our guests for some light refreshments and conversation about the night’s education. We’d had those conversations throughout the latter half of 2016, following the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge. Following the example set by Most Worshipful Brother Don Stapleton, we chose to address the issue of sexual orientation in our Lodge and have amended our bylaws to include the following; “No individual is to be excluded or expelled from membership in our Lodge, on the basis of sexual orientation. Our Lodge regards it as unmasonic to take any such action against a candidate or member.” This language is clear and unequivocating, as is our belief that this issue is a test of our skill with the proper application of the Level.
Brethren, I know that this is a contentious issue for everyone. I’ve met very few people without an opinion on these matters (and never anyone with an opinion who didn’t feel strongly about it), but we must all draw upon our fortitude and discuss how we as Freemasons will address the present issues of sectarian bias against men who seek to join a universal, progressive moral science. We all work to perfect our individual ashlars – to make progress as men, to enrich our world. Progress is the winning trend over time. There was a time when men of color were barred from admission into our gentle craft – and in time we saw better how to extend a hand of brotherly love and affection for them, and we and our Fraternity have been enriched by this change. We hope to encourage other Lodges to start these conversations (if they haven’t already) and not let ambiguity or silence rob us all of the opportunity to seek further light.
Thank you for your time and attention, Brethren. Be well, seek light, and do good work.