Is Homosexuality Unmasonic? - Revisit

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro:. Jason Richards
Guest Contributor
WB:. Jon Ruark

On Friday, 26 June, 2015, the United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in support of homosexual marriage equality. This nationwide declaration of equality and the changing societal norms it represents necessitates taking a hard look at Freemasonry--long having been recognized as an organization that celebrates all men as equals--and its attitude toward homosexuality in order to ask the question: “If all men are equal, and now have equal rights to marriage across the United States, is the practice of homosexuality in and of itself ‘unmasonic’?” 

Before delving into such a discussion, it is necessary to define the term “unmasonic” for the purposes of our discussion here. Unmasonic conduct is often referenced--even by Albert Mackey on numerous occasions--but has seldom been defined. Most often, it is utilized either as a synonym for “immorality” or described as “conduct unbecoming of a Mason.” However, both of these uses are deeply subjective, and interpretation could vary widely depending on a given culture or circumstance as moral laws differ greatly from culture to culture. For the purposes of our discussion here, we would posit a more objective and measurable definition of unmasonic conduct: “an action that causes serious harm within the fraternity or its public image outside of the fraternity.” As a society of good men who strive to make eachother into better men, it is important to retain harmony within the organization so it doesn’t crumble from within, but also just as important to retain a positive public image so that the organization can persist and attract membership. 

(Left to Right) Bros. Robert Johnson,
Jason Richards &
Jon Ruark broadcasting TMR from
Jason's house in VA
Masonic laws concerning homosexuality vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Many jurisdictions have no stated policy on the matter, but some Grand Jurisdictions (who will remain nameless) list transvestitism, homosexual behavior, or even the sheer promotion of homosexuality as Masonic offenses punishable by suspension or expulsion. Many of Masonry’s rules and Landmarks originated in time immemorial; however, the laws, rules, and edicts of each sovereign Grand Lodge comprise a governing framework established by men in authority at a given period of time, based on personal--and therefore subjective--worldviews influenced by societal norms. We would posit that as societal norms change and evolve, regulations at the Grand Lodge level should be revalidated and updated to reflect the greater society within which Masonry operates. As such, the Supreme Court decision on Friday gives leaders of the Masonic fraternity a distinct opportunity to reevaluate existing policies on homosexuality. 

But back to the original question of this article. If we look at unmasonic conduct from the objective lens postulated earlier, we find it difficult to reconcile calling homosexuality “unmasonic.” Homosexuality causes no inherent harm within the lodge. Regardless of race, age, or sexual orientation, brethren are expected to treat each other with the utmost respect. Furthermore, as societal norms have changed and homosexuality is no longer the social taboo it happened to be several decades ago, the presence of homosexuals in the lodge does not harm the fraternity’s public image. Quite to the contrary--as we have seen in recent times with organizations accused of anti-gay sentiment (, even a perceived lack of toleration can do harm to an organization’s public image. If we care about public perception--and we should given the past 50 years’ worth of membership trends--then a reexamination of our rules and perceptions toward homosexuality is prudent. 

If homosexuality is now accepted as a societal norm (much like minorities were increasingly accepted as equal members of society after the Civil Rights movement of the 1970’s), and causes no inherent harm within the fraternity or to the fraternity’s public image, then where are these regulations rooted? Arguably, much of the resistance to homosexuality in Masonry has roots in Christianity, the principles and dogma of which have long been interpreted as condemning the practice of homosexuality. But whether or not a given brother or grand officer subscribes to those interpretations is irrelevant where Masonry is concerned as religion has no place inside the walls of the lodge. The fraternity’s most recent addition to the landmarks of Freemasonry ( is that religion and politics (and sometimes nationalities/borders) are not to be discussed in lodge as those topics only serve to divide, rather than unite, brethren. For the sake of the fraternity, brethren are exhorted to celebrate the common belief of a Supreme Being within lodge while, at the same time, respecting each brother’s right to subscribe to his own religious dogma. 

As a result, a brother’s religious-inspired belief that homosexuality is immoral (and therefore “unmasonic”) has no place within the confines of the lodge room. Likewise, a man’s sexual orientation should have no bearing on his being accepted or rejected as a candidate to receive the degrees in Freemasonry. After all, candidates are balloted upon within the lodge room during a tiled meeting. As such, religious and political biases should have no bearing on a candidate’s internal qualifications for Masonic membership. 

Friday’s Supreme Court decision has presented our brotherhood with a distinct opportunity to move forward in line with the ideals upon which our great fraternity was founded: tolerance, harmony, and unity. By embracing toleration for all men under the fatherhood of God regardless of race or sexual orientation, we can set ourselves above today’s polarized society. That toleration, in turn, will promote harmony and build unity within our lodges. By celebrating our diversity rather than condemning it, our fraternity will grow stronger and attract innovative, exceptional young men to join our ranks as men and Masons for years to come. 

~JR & JR

(Left to Right) Bro. Jon Ruark,
Bro. Jason Richards
Bro. Jason Richards is the Junior Warden of Acacia Lodge No. 16 in Clifton, Virginia, and a member of both The Patriot Lodge No. 1957 and Fauquier Royal Arch Chapter No. 25 in Fairfax, Virginia. He is also Chaplain of Perfect Ashlar Council No. 349, Allied Masonic Degrees. He is the sole author of the Masonic weblog The 2-Foot Ruler: Masonry in Plain Language, and is a co-host on the weekly YouTube show and podcast The Masonic Roundtable. He lives in Virginia with his wife, cats, and ever-expanding collection of bow ties.

WB. Jon Ruark is a Past Master of The Patriot Lodge No. 1957 in Fairfax, VA. His love of technology and gadgets led him to start The Masonic Roundtable as a Hangout on Air. His Masonic interests lean toward the esoteric and philosophical aspect. He lives in Virginia with his wife, 2.5 children, a dog named Copernicus, and a cat named Tesla who’s a jerk.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great article! I would be interested to know if brethren would go believe it is okay to have relations outside of marriage. Many people now find this acceptable, so why should we kick them out of masonry for doing what they and many in society deem acceptable? Conversations like this are needed in lodge. Great job!


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