[Artemisia] Fwd: [Caid] SCA Board Rules on Same Gender Couples in SCA Leadership

SirMLL at aol.com SirMLL at aol.com
Sat Oct 22 15:43:18 CDT 2011

 From: DalphinaDelacroix at gmail.com
Reply-to:  caid at crier.caid-commons.org
To: angels at crier.caid-commons.org,  AngelsBaronial at yahoogroups.com, 
Altavia at yahoogroups.com,  Lyondemere at yahoogroups.com, caid at crier.caid-commons.org
Sent: 10/18/2011  5:47:01 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time
Subj: [Caid] SCA Board Rules on Same  Gender Couples in SCA Leadership


SCA Board Rules on  Same Gender Couples in SCA Leadership
Submitted by Ariel de Courtenay on  Tue, 2011-10-18 00:25

On Saturday, October 15, the seven members of the  Board of the Society for
Creative Anachronism met in Seattle for the open  session day of their
quarterly meeting. While many items of business were  on the agenda, the
topic of highest interest for many was the issue of  same-gender couple
leadership in the SCA.

Approximately forty  members of the populace were in attendance, and the
atmosphere was both  charged and hopeful. The Board conducted the meeting
with openness and  humor, transparently addressing this important issue and
welcoming  questions and comments from the floor. With careful deliberation,
the Board  attended to three distinct items all related to  same-gender

*Board Considers Three Same-Gender Policy  Items:*

*1. Ruling on Baronial Selection*

First, concerning the  issue of same-gender baronial leadership, the Board
asked the Society  Seneschal Countess Kenna Harve for a ruling. Having duly
deliberated in  preparation for the meeting, Countess Kenna entered into the
record her  policy interpretation ruling that the Governing Documents of the
Society  designate that baronial leaders shall be selected “according to the
rules  and customs of the kingdom.” Because the Governing Documents make  no
reference to gender in the case of baronial selection, she ruled that,  as
general Society policy going forward, Corpora provides no obstacle to  the
installation of same gender baronial leaders.

As a point of  clarification, Director Tim Jennings, ombudsman of Caid,
verified that the  installation of Barons-Elect Giles and Giuseppe of
Gyldenholt, Caid may  move forward unobstructed by the board. He received
official confirmation  from the Seneschal. Lest the significance of the
moment go by too fast in  the minutiae of bureaucratic process, Director 
Fulton halted the  proceedings to note the profound significance of the
action: “This is  landscape changing,” he commented, “this will change  the

Indeed, the implications of this decision are  significant. As there are far
more baronial seats than crowns available in  the SCA, and as the skill set
required for baronial leadership is more  widespread, this decision may
affect a greater number of SCA members in  practical terms than crown list
entry (though numbers are still likely to  be very low overall).

In terms of cultural acceptance of gay couples in  the SCA, same-gender
baronial leadership is also likely to have an  influence on attitudes toward
same-gender SCA leadership in general.  Research has shown that simply
knowing someone gay or lesbian is one of the  most significant influences on
views on gay rights. For example, according  to 2009 Gallup data, the
difference in support for gay marriage between  those who know someone gay 
lesbian and those who do not is more than  twenty-five percentage points 
support from those who do, 27% support  from those who do not). Installing
even a few gay couples in positions of  SCA leadership is likely to
contribute to a similar trend in long-term  attitudinal shifts in the
society. Finally, the ruling has the additional  positive benefit of opening
up baronial leadership opportunities to same  gender pairs who are not
romantic couples.

*2. Ruling on Variance  for Same-Gender Entry in An Tir Crown*

The second issue considered by  the Board was a request for a variance to
allow same gender entry in Crown  Lists submitted by King Thorin and Queen
Dagmaer of An Tir in August of  2011. The request was received after the
summer quarter Board meeting and  was therefore put on the agenda for the
October meeting, although the date  of the requested variance (An Tir
September Crown) had already  passed.

Regarding the variance request, Society Seneschal Kenna Harve  ruled that, 
the wording of the Governing Documents is clear that  prospective entrants
must be fighting for a “potential consort of the  opposite gender,” there 
no room for policy interpretation. Therefore,  she ruled, in order for this
policy to be changed, the wording of the  Governing Documents must be
altered. The ruling was approved by the Board  with one opposing vote from
Director Tim Jennings, who explained later that  he believes a variance
"could have been made based on kingdom culture...or  a recommendation could
have been suggested to instigate a change in Corpora  at this time."

Given that the date of the An Tir tourney in question  has passed, this
ruling may appear on the surface to be largely procedural;  however, the
clarification of the stance of SCA governance on the meaning  of current
Corpora language is essential to determining future action. This  ruling
states for the record that the issue of same gender consorts in  royal lists
can only be addressed through amendment of Corpora. (No ruling  was given on
the interpretation of modern law as it applies to SCA Royal  Lists at this

It is important to note, regarding each of the  two policy interpretation
rulings above, that all candidates for royal  lists or baronial seats must 
acceptable to the Crown, and that aspect of  leadership qualification is
not currently up for debate.

*3. Ruling  on Amendment to Corpora to Remove Same-Gender ban on Royal 

The  third item before the Board was the request to amend Corpora submitted
by  Master Giles of Caid, and subsequently by several other parties.  Board
chair Leslie Vaughn noted that while several of the Corpora  amendment
proposals asked simply to strike the last four words of Corpora  IV.B.1 “
competitor in a Royal Lists must be fighting for a prospective  consort *of
the opposite gender*,” other proposals had been received which  suggested
alternate approaches such as adding an introductory passage or  rewriting 
entire passage on Royal Qualifications.

Board concern  centers around creating a durable set of qualifications that
reflects the  moral commitment of the SCA toward inclusion while preventing
abuses of the  system. Several Directors noted that the potential for abuse
of a rule  change allowing same-gender couples has come to their attention.
Director  Lisa May noted that SCA history demonstrates instances of
leadership  alternating between two members of the same household or 
resulting  in a concentration of power in a small oligarchy. It was 
that  currently, in a number of kingdoms as part of public conversations
around  the issue, a small but vocal minority of so-called “superdukes” 
stated  that they would use such a rule change to attempt to increase their
access  to power by teaming up with another high-level fighter. It is  
whether such a tactic, even if attempted, could increase actual  number of
reigns because rulers (whether sovereign-by-right-of-arms or  consort) would
still be bound by the no self-succession rule. However, the  issue remains
significant as it concerns a stance perceived as a concrete  threat to the
game so valued by all involved.

As a partial remedy  for potential abuse, one suggestion involves adding an
introductory passage  to the Corpora section on Royal Qualifications
describing aspirational  values around the role and meaning of inspiration.
Such a passage is being  supported by some Directors as a vehicle to
influence SCA culture and a  mechanism by which to increase the authority 
mandate of monarch  intervention when such abuses occur. King Thorin
explained to the board  that advocates of Inspirational Equality in An Tir
come from a kingdom that  places a very high value on the honor of fighting
for true inspiration,  which makes the idea of abuse foreign and difficult  

In terms of addressing the civil and legal questions  around representation,
the issue is a complex one. Because the SCA  currently guarantees that 50% 
leadership in the highest echelon shall be  female, and because all data
strongly supports that opening crown lists to  same gender inspirations is
highly unlikely to increase the number of women  on the throne, the issue of
same-gender inspirations is not simply an issue  of greater inclusion for a
marginalized group, but of balancing competing  rights for equal gender
representation with inclusion for same-gender  couples.

While adding rights for a marginalized group (same-gender  couples) may be
relatively easy to support, doing so in a way that  reduces
representation--however minimally--for an already protected group  (women) 
ethically and legally fraught. At the same time, the Board is  very 
of their moral obligation to respond to the appeals of  same-gender couples
for equal treatment, given that their current  representation in royal lists
is zero. The balance is a delicate one. Given  this complex dynamic, the
Board nevertheless expressed commitment to moving  forward in crafting 
that supports fair treatment of all  constituencies. “It has to be
addressed,” said Director Tim  Jennings.

*Board Proposes Three-Step Process for Consideration of  Corpora Revision*

With the goal of forging a policy that is both fair  and inclusive, the 
has proposed a three-step process. In a perfect  world, each step would be
initiated at a successive quarterly Board  meeting; however, given the
quantity of business before the board and the  likelihood of high-volume
public comment on this issue, Director Tim  Jennings indicates that the 
would be remiss in attempting to  guarantee a specific timeline.

*1. Public Comment on Census Data  Concerning Same-Gender Inspirations*

The first stage in the three-step  process (approved and initiated at the
October meeting on Saturday) shall  be to begin a public conversation on
same-gender inspirations through the  release of 2010 SCA Census data on 
question. A broad summary of the  data was shared by the Census committee
indicating a fairly even pro-con  split with a sizable minority expressing
either no opinion or no response  at all. The data also shows strong
geographic trends with highest levels of  support on the West Coast and

The census data will be  uploaded to the SCA Inc. website as soon as Board
approval is received and  processed by the Census committee. The Board plans
to release the data  prefaced by a statement encouraging public comment with
a view toward  Corpora reconsideration. During this initial period of public
comment, the  Board will actively workshop policy suggestions which will 
be  consolidated into concrete proposals.

*2. Public Comment on Options for  Proposed Corpora Amendment *

In the second stage of the process, the  Board proposes to submit a small
number of specific proposals concerning  Corpora revision for public 
Proposals could include (but are not  limited to) a no-change option, a
simple removal of reference to gender in  Royal Qualifications, additions to
Corpora addressing abuse prevention  along with removal of gender
restrictions, and possible re-drafting of the  entire section on Royal
Qualifications. A sixty-day comment period is  typical for proposed changes
to Corpora; however, the board has no standard  policy on the length of
comment periods.

Second phase comment shall  be collected through the website of the SCA Inc.
on the page labeled  “Announcements and Requests for Comment from the Board
of Directors,” and  deadline for comment will be clearly indicated when the
proposals are  posted. Public involvement is enthusiastically solicited by
the Board for  both public comment phases.

*3. Corpora Revision Decision*

The  final stage of the proposed process shall take place at a quarterly
Board  meeting. At that time, having reviewed membership responses to the
various  action proposals, the Board shall make a decision on Corpora
revision that  is guided by its fiduciary obligation to the long-term good 
The Game as  well as its ethical obligations to the moral, civil, and
chivalric values  of inclusion, equal treatment, and protection of the
disenfranchised.  Through this careful step-wise process, the Board hopes to
balance the need  for timely action on a pressing social issue with need for
public  involvement in a significant change to the game.

*Spirit of  Collaboration Hailed by Board and Inspirational Equality  

The Inspirational Equality movement has been a  driving force behind
advocating for removal of the same-gender ban on royal  lists. Although
originating in An Tir, the group now has over 1150  members
knowne-world-wide, with representatives in seventeen of nineteen  kingdoms
(Facebook information below). Several members, including the  author of this
report, were in attendance at the October board meeting on  Saturday and
hailed the actions of the Board as welcome progress. The  leadership of IE
joins with the Board in advocating for active populace  participation in the
proposed comment periods.

Given the specific  nature of some of the concerns, the leaders of IE hope
that greater  representation of opinions from the fighting community
regarding attitudes  toward inspiration in Royal Lists may help more broadly
illuminate the  actual potential for abuse should same-gender inspirations 
allowed.  Comments may be emailed to comments at sca.org or may be  
submitted through the link on the Census data page, once  posted. The 
of the Board confirm that they read all comments  submitted and are 
to soliciting and understanding the needs of  the membership of the SCA.

In addition to promoting the issue of  equality for same-gender couples,
Inspirational Equality leadership used  the opportunity for comment to
express a need for clearer and more easily  accessible guidelines for Board
communication and Corpora change proposal  submissions. The Board was highly
responsive to this request, and newly  installed director Lisa May indicates
that the project of improving  documentation and transparency of Board
policies and procedures is one of  the primary goals of her Board term.

Overall, the process around this  controversial issue has been hailed from
all involved as a model of  honorable and productive engagement. Several
members of the Board went out  of their way to thank the Inspirational
Equality group on record for their  respectful and tempered approach. Both
constituencies left the meeting with  a strong spirit of forward movement 
cooperative dialog—in fact, two  Directors volunteered to review the current
report for accuracy of both  tone and factual detail. (Thank you to Tim
Jennings and Lisa May for their  help drafting this article.)
Related Links

-  Inspirational Equality Facebook Advocay  Group
--------------  next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
Caid  mailing  list
Caid at crier.caid-commons.org

More information about the Artemisia mailing list