[Ansteorra] Ansteorra Digest, Vol 75, Issue 17

Talbot the Mad talbotthemad at gmail.com
Wed Jul 18 17:21:37 PDT 2012

I'd like to pass on the commentary of Messer Giuseppe Francesco da Borgia, O.L., O.P., whom currently serves with his husband as Barons of the Barony of Gyldenholt in Caid.

"Greetings to the Board of Directors of the Society for Creative Anachronism,

I am writing this letter to address the Board’s most recent call for feedback regarding the proposed change to corpora re: same-gender competitors in Crown Tourney.

As I stated to you all previously when your last call for commentary was posted on this subject, I would like to thank each and every one of you for considering this change in any capacity. I recognize that this is a very controversial topic, and one where finding a solution that will please everyone is simply not possible.

To address your request for commentary, the current wording within corpora regarding consorts and gender states the following, “Each competitor in a Royal Lists must be fighting for a prospective consort of the opposite gender”. In its place, the Board has proposed the following wording, “Each competitor in a Royal List must be fighting for a prospective consort of the opposite sex unless the Crown has elected to permit a competitor to fight for a prospective consort of the same sex.” I view this new proposed wording as a vast improvement over the previously proposed change. Can I live with it? Yes. But do I believe it goes far enough? No. And here is why.

As you know, there has been much discussion about this topic. And I do not wish to rehash every bit of it, as I am sure you are well aware of the concerns (whether valid or not) that have been raised by the membership. Very simply, I offer this. Rules and restrictions should serve for a purpose, and not simply for the sake of the rules themselves or because “we’ve always done it that way.” Whether individual members or individual kingdoms like change is not the issue. The fact is, the Society has changed and evolved over the course of forty plus years, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, we have had to change because of real-world legal requirements. Recent changes and exceptions to Crown Tourney requirements had to be made because of the nature of law in Finland. This is obviously something that the participants of the original party of ’66 could not/would not have thought of back when somebody originally said, “Hey, I have an idea for a fun
 get-together!” Other times, we have had to change as we have expanded the scope of our game. Back when I joined the SCA, we didn’t have things such as Equestrian activities, or Boffers, or Fencing. But obviously, the SCA has changed to accommodate these activities, taking into account such real-world considerations as insurance, regulations, etc. And then purely in terms of SCA cultural history, I have paid witness to change as we have learned more about history itself. Back when I joined, there were particularly SCA-popular types of garb that have since been proven to have been incorrect or mistaken interpretations. Ooops! So what happened? We lived. We learned. We changed.

So should it be with the question of gender and consorts.

At a time, we didn’t even consider the idea of same-gender consorts because there was a very common (mis)belief that such a thing simply isn’t period. But then, thanks to the tireless research of many who wanted to know more, we have discovered volumes of history that disprove this fallacy in several cultures throughout several centuries worth of history.

There is no valid historical reason to ban same-gender consorts from entering Crown Tourney. If anything, history proves just the opposite.

There is no valid physical reason to ban same-gender consorts from entering Crown Tourney. Two capable people are two capable people – regardless of gender. It doesn’t take plumbing to determine the capability of two individuals.

There is no valid legal reason to ban same-gender consorts from entering Crown Tourney. If anything, we are seeing more and more discriminatory laws throughout this country being challenged and slowly overcome throughout the U.S., and throughout the world.

There is no valid customary reason to ban same-gender consorts from entering Crown Tourney. The SCA has already broken through the barriers of the “custom” of a male sovereign and a female consort. We have seen a female sovereign and a male consort in one Kingdom. We have seen a number of women who have won Principality tournies. We have seen a woman rule a Kingdom with no King. And then there is that crazy Barony in Caid who embraced two men as their coronets with open arms.

And the society is still here.

I can live with the current wording. And if it comes down to a final choice between that or nothing, I will accept what the Board currently proposes. But instead, I would submit to you this. Since we are considering change and considering a fix to something that needs – NEEDS – to be fixed, my advice to the Board is to fix the whole problem. Simply strike the last four unnecessary words of the current regulation so that it reads, “Each competitor in a Royal List must be fighting for a prospective consort.”

The Society for Creative Anachronism has weathered many storms, and seen many, many changes over the years. And at the time, many of these changes seemed (to some) as extreme, or severe, or as the “end of the known world as we know it.” Yet, we are still here. We have weathered the storms. We still dress up in strange clothes and beat each other with sticks. This storm will also pass. And when it does, the society should come out stronger for having survived it. In my opinion, the single best way to do this is to simply edit the clause that unfairly disenfranchises a minority group within your membership.

Submitted respectfully and sincerely,

Joe Cook-Giles
Ska Messer Giuseppe Francesco da Borgia, O.L., O.P.
Kingdom of Caid"


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