You asked!--Part II: Nuts and Bolts. Implementation answers from Inspirational Equality

The Inspirational Equality Advocacy group answers frequently asked questions about the implications and implementation of allowing same-gender couples in Royal Lists (part II of II).

16. Why change something that affects less than one percent of the SCA?

This question is its own best counter-argument—if it really affects so few people, what is the downside? Why not just do it? Is it possible that it actually affects everyone a little bit? Is the real argument here: why should we make a change that affects everyone but only helps 1%? So, put that way, we can only ask you to consider—would the majority lose something so important by this change that it is right to cause a small minority to suffer a significant loss?

17. How can two rulers of the same gender inspire/represent populace of the opposite gender?

One can certainly be inspired and/or represented by a person of a different race or age--why is gender more salient? Do we need sameness (or oppositeness) in order to be inspired or well-represented? Perhaps it is about the roles each member of the ruling couple plays? Presumably, in a fighter-inspiration couple, the fighter would take on the more martial duties such as knightings or calling the army to war, and the inspiration would be responsible for the “love and beauty” aspects such as the “Consort Tea” and meeting with the Order of the Rose.

And then there’s the opposite point—if we can only be inspired by sameness, the ban on same gender couples means that all gays and lesbians in the SCA are chronically under-inspired by Royalty since gay couples never rule. All kidding aside--we believe that both are possible: it is lovely to see people like yourself on the throne and equally plausible to be inspired and represented by people different from yourself.

18. Wouldn’t allowing same gender consorts make it so that it was more likely two men would rule (as opposed to two women)? Wouldn’t this be a step back for women?

That depends on if you see the current structure as a step forward for women. If, on the other hand, you see inclusion of one marginalized group as a step forward for all disenfranchised groups, then this rule change would be a step forward for equality, and if women are a marginalized group in the SCA, then it could be seen as a step forward for women.

19. Will this decision keep conservative religious people away from the SCA?

Possibly. But ask yourself this—how long have you been aware that the SCA does not allow same gender couples in Crown lists? If you were aware, how big a part of your game has it been? We contend that, except in rare cases when same-gender rulers actually sit the thrones, most people joining the SCA will be unaware of this rule until they are deeply a part of the game—and by that time conservative religious folks surely will have encountered many other aspects of the SCA that will challenge them to have an open mind.

Finally, does the SCA want to be an organization that caters to people who are against inclusion for same gender couples?

20. Would this change prevent us from using conservative religious sites like churches?

There’s no way to know that. We already have hundreds of gay members, several in visible leadership positions such as baron/baroness. There is no evidence that this affects our rental contracts. Even if it did, is it worth the potential loss of a few sites (assuming such sites would even know about the rule) to perpetrate an injustice on a significant minority of our own populace?

21. Would this put SCA folks in danger if the SCA were to become established in a country where homosexuality is punishable by law?

Since this is not the case at the moment, is it really worth using a some-day possibility to prevent right action now? Could we not cross this bridge when we come to it? Additionally, in countries where homosexuality is illegal, many other activities very popular in the SCA are equally illegal—there are no movements to ban extra-marital sex or alcohol consumption just in case we want a branch in Iran, for example.

22. If homosexual rulers were to travel to such a country, would that endanger them (or prevent them from traveling)?

See above—does the very small possibility of danger someday outweigh right action now for thousands of people already in the SCA? (Also, given the events of the “Arab Spring,” many of the countries where such things are illegal seem to be changing.)

Finally, as with all rulers, each set will have full say over when and where they go—trust them to have good judgment as to their own safety, and do not disallow a whole class of people just to prevent extremely remote possibilities. If SCAdians in the hypothetical future branches in such countries are deprived of the visit of royalty for four or six months due to homophobia in certain regions, it is not so very different than having a crown for a reign who for modern reasons doesn’t have the time to travel.

23. How about places like the South? Wouldn’t having a same gender couple on the throne put them in danger there?

The question to be asking here is not how or whether the SCA should be in the business of trying to protect members from hypothetical risks, but should corpora PROHIBIT same gender couples across the whole society. If corpora lifts the ban on same gender couples, that says nothing about whether kingdoms like Trimaris will allow it, or whether, if they do, gay couples will choose to take on the commitment of entering Crown lists there. Prohibiting a practice in the entire SCA with the aim of preventing hypothetical risk to couples who have the right to chose for themselves could be seen as over-protective and beyond the scope of SCA responsiblity.

24. Isn’t the primary goal of the SCA to offer a non-controversial Medieval Dream to its members?

This assumes that everyone’s Dream is the same, and no one can really know all versions. We contend that, in the absence of the ability to satisfy everyone, the SCA has the duty to provide a rule structure 1) that is fair and just in accordance with the SCA values of honor and chivalric defense of the disenfranchised, 2) that answers the desires of the populace as expressed through fealty chains and in opinions expressed to regional and national leaders, and 3) that brings SCA rules in line with modern sensibilities and civil rights ideals.

25. Will this be an influence on children by providing role models that some families disagree with?

Perhaps. But if you are an involved parent who is worried about the modeling of the royals for your children (say, for example, it is bad behavior you are concerned about, like swearing at people, cheating on the field, verbally abusing their own children in public) you would likely talk to your kids about what your own family values are and make sure your children understand that you don’t support that modeling. If you disagree with the two people of the same gender being a couple, you would let your kids know that too. If your family values are strong, no distant couple on the throne is going to sway your kids.

On the other hand, if you agree with inclusion of same-gender couples, it goes without saying that you will probably make sure that seeing same gender rulers has a very inspiring influence on your children. Most inspired of all will be those kids with two dads or two moms who get to see families like theirs in important SCA roles.

26. Is this discussion too controversial for regional lists—it might alienate our members?

Possibly, but if all dissension is shut down, what kind of organization are we? Change only happens when squeaky wheels ask to be heard. If the topic is too controversial, is it the topic or the process? Can anything be done to address the tone of the discussion or move it to a venue of interested people without closing down the whole exchange?

27. Would there be a cost to Kingdoms if they have to make new regalia?

Unlikely. Most crowns are made large and padded smaller. All regalia thought of as gender-role specific can also be thought of as martial champion/inspiration role specific. As an IE member said, “if you sign up for inspiration duty, you better be up for the hearts and flowers.”

28. Would certain awards tied to the gender of one of the rulers be neglected during a same-gender reign?

We have not yet come across any awards that could not be easily transferred or modified as being associated with the consort role as opposed to the female role. New kinds of ruling couples might mean the creation of new awards.

29. Would allowing same gender rulers cause a decrease in membership?

For reasons described in part I (see Part I, question 9), it is unlikely to have much impact at all on the status quo of the SCA, and therefore on membership.

And then there’s this: if we are an organization that depends on a discriminatory rule to promote membership, what does that say about us?

Finally, is increasing membership an important goal? Some people think the SCA is growing too fast already.

30. How can I let the board know what I think about this issue?

The board wants your comments!

Mail letters to: The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. P.O. Box 360789 Milpitas, CA 95036-0789

Or go to the Board of Directors page on the SCA website where you will find the link: comments@sca.org.