Board Responds to Comments on Same-Gender Consort Proposal

Should entrants in Royal Lists be allowed to fight for a consort of the same gender? Going to the heart of one of the most visible and celebrated institutions in the Society, this question has proved to be a matter of great moment for members of the Society's governing body, as well as for the membership at large.

At issue is the wording of Corpora, the SCA’s “constitution,” regarding the gender of consort-inspiration pairs. At the April 28 board meeting, the directors of the Society for Creative Anachronism addressed public comment on their proposed revision to Corpora regarding same-gender inspirations.

Three months earlier, on Tuesday January 30, the board had issued an announcement soliciting public comment on the following proposal: Corpora would retain the current language on consorts: “Each competitor in a Royal List must be fighting for a consort of the opposite gender” which would be followed by the new phrase, “Crowns may permit entry into the Royal Lists by same-gender couples.”

A very lively discussion of this proposed language ensued on local, kingdom, and inter-kingdom discussion lists, as well as on Facebook and face-to-face. A petition supporting same-gender inspirations on the website generated 863 supporters, while an opposing petition generated 58 signatures. A large number of members of the Society took the opportunity to comment directly to the Board. In fact, at the April board meeting, BoD Chair Leslie Vaughn noted that they had received more comments on the proposed change—over two thousand—than on any other topic sent out to the membership in the history of the Society.

The actual discussion by the Board was somewhat anti-climactic; the Chair announced that the Directors would be working on a revised proposal for change and hoped to have it out to the membership for comment in July 2012. Regardless of when the revised proposal is released, the Society’s members will have three months to comment on the new language. If a second proposal is issued in July, the Board may have the issue back on the agenda by the October meeting.

Advocates for same-gender inspirations responded to the board’s action with tempered optimism. Some expressed disappointment that the process would not be moving quickly enough for the board to make a decision which would have bearing on the current tourney season in most kingdoms. Others, however, expressed relief that what they viewed as a self-contradictory and confusing proposal would not be put in place, citing the need for robust, definitive language if any change made is to be successful in the long run: “As much as I do not want to wait, I'd rather wait than have the current policy. I didn't think it was fair to the Royals,” commented Bill Toscano (Master Liam St. Liam of the East Kingdom). In general, the members of Inspirational Equality are united in acknowledging the Board for their ongoing consideration and care in this matter, particularly when so many other issues are pressing for their attention.

In response to the April board ruling, the Inspirational Equality (IE) movement—the organized face of support for same-gender consorts (see link below)—plans a tourney season of positive action to keep the issue of same-gender inspirations in the forefront of populace awareness. In addition to continuing demonstrations of support for same-gender couples such as the wearing of purple armbands, IE has created an “equality salute” which anyone may use to demonstrate their support for same-gender inspirations:

Equality Salute: (adapted from ASL sign for "same"): As a symbol of solidarity with same-gender couples who are currently excluded from Royal Lists, Inspirational Equality encourages the populace to use the equality salute when acknowledging their inspirations—especially in Royal Lists—but also at any other opportunity for gestures of respect, such as court hails or fealty salutes.

With sword: grip the blade with hand raised toward your inspiration, pommel forward, tip back.

With hand: hold hand diagonally above head with thumb and fourth finger extended, fourth finger toward fighter, thumb toward self.

For emphasis: move hand slowly toward your inspiration and back towards self.

Meaning: "Same" (for solidarity with same-gender inspirations), also "same" for "we are the same," (as in equal to all other couples). Adding the back and forth movement adds the meaning of "me too" in ASL—as in "I support this too." Holding one’s sword in a non-fighting grip also indicates solidarity with those who cannot fight for their inspirations as well as intention for peaceful action.

The leadership of Inspirational Equality hopes this symbol may ripple across the Known World as the diverse supporters of same-gender consorts silently make their feelings known. IE grants permission for reposting the salute description and diagram to any SCA message board or list.

Committed to the change effort, however long it takes, IE wishes an inspirational tourney season to all, whosoever inspires you in your heart.

submitted by by Giles Hill and Ariel de Courtenay