The Tennessee chapter of the Freemasons, a secretive fraternity that dates back centuries, voted on Thursday to uphold its ban on gay members.
The decision was reported by The Tennessean, citing anonymous sources. The Tennessee chapter of the Freemasons counts over 41,000 members and over 300 lodges.
The Freemasons, known primarily for their furtive practices and philanthropic efforts, have chapters throughout the country. Each state chapter makes their own rules; the Tennessee and Georgia organizations were long known to ban openly gay men. Chapters in California and Washington, D.C., have cut off relations with those two discriminatory chapters chapters because of their refusal to allow gays. In the fall, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee booted two members who married after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
"I’m not gay myself, but I have friends who are, and I don’t think this is right," Nashville resident Chase Geiser told The Tennessean, "and it is something that will prevent younger members from joining the organization that has seen decreasing numbers since World War II."