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Tennessee Freemasons vote against allowing gay members

Tennessee Freemasons vote against allowing gay members

Tennessee Freemasons have voted against adopting more welcoming membership rules after a proposal to amend the fraternal organization’s internal Penal Code was voted down.

Currently the group bars members who ‘engage in lewd conduct,’ and who ‘promote or engage in homosexual activity.’

The group also bans members who ‘cohabit immorally in a situation without the benefit of marriage’ meaning unmarried heterosexuals who are in live-in relationships can potentially find themselves drummed out of the group as well.

Had the proposal been successful it would have changed the language to only ban members who ‘engage or promote lewd conduct’ and would have removed any mention of members’ sexual orientation or home situation.

However the members of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee Free and Accepted Masons voted against updating the rules when they met on Thursday in Nashville.

As the Freemasons are technically a secret society the result of the vote was given anonymously to The Tennessean.

However it is unknown how close the vote was.

The issue came to a head after two West Tennessee Freemasons were suspended after they married after the US Supreme Court handed down its ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Dennis Clark and husband Mark Henderson married in June and Clark told The Tennessean he felt the decision didn’t sit right with the core values of Freemasonry.

‘In rejecting the amendment to remove discriminatory language, from my perspective, they have doubled down in bigotry,’ Clark told the newspaper in an interview on Thursday.

‘If you are a master mason they will suspend you or punish you when you are discovered. That is not the principles of equality and meeting “on the level.” I am deeply cut and concerned from this move from the Grand Lodge.’

Individual grand lodges around the United States set their own policies around who is allowed to join and Clark said he knew of Freemasons from other states that were quietly supportive.

There are around 40,000 members of the Freemasons associated with the Grand Lodge of Tennessee and around 300 lodges across the state.

However the movement has an aging membership and is struggling to attract new members in many parts of the United States.