Comments to the SCA's Board of Directors on the Same-Gender Consort Proposal
for changes in Corpora are due Dec. 1.
Here's my letter.
Unto the Directors of the Society for Creative Anachronism does Baron Cormac Mór, Companion of the Pelican and Crescent Principal Herald for the Kingdom of Caid, send greetings and salutations.
I write to you today on the continuing discussion regarding the allowance of same-sex pairings in Crown lists, and the various proposals to address the issue. I will quickly cover three points, then discuss my observations of the effect of same-sex noble couples on our game from my unique position as Crescent Principal Herald.
First, I reiterate my personal support for opening Crown lists to all adults who wish to participate. Openness and inclusivity are hallmarks of our organization, and the antiquated language that currently appears in Corpora is a detriment to those ideals that is rightly facing its end. Others have written far more eloquently than I about the historical precedent of same-sex co-rulers (cf Dame Ursula Georges) and of the deep emotions involved in being denied the right to fight for one you love simply because you and your love are the same sex. I will not further belabor these points; suffice to say that I agree with them wholeheartedly.
Second, I reject the current amendment to the proposal that a participant in Crown Tournament must be a fighter or a consort, but not both. Such a proposal would change current Crown participation here in Caid, where at least two fighter-consort pairings regularly fight for one another, and where several have done so in the past. While I understand the intent behind this proposal, to allay the fears of some in our game that so-called "superdukes" would pair up to dominate a Crown Lists, or otherwise daisy-chain themselves in an attempt to affect the results of the lists, such issues are rightly addressed on a case-by-case basis by the Crown, who has the right to refuse entry into any List for any reason. This same privilege of the Crown should be considered for every other amendment to the proposal, and for the proposal itself.
Third, while it is an improvement on the current language, I disagree with the proposed language which places the onus of approval of same-sex pairings in Crown Tournament upon each individual sovereign and consort hosting said tournament. This exception to the normal arrangement of the Crown refusing entry into the lists is an unequal treatment for a particular scenario, one which places an undue burden on the Crown for no discernable reason. I continue to add my voice in support of the much simpler proposal, to remove the words "of the opposite sex" from the current wording of Corpora. By removing all mention of sex from Corpora, the cultural considerations of allowing or disallowing same-sex couplings gets rightly placed within each kingdom. Whether same-sex co-rulers would be acceptable to the populace will vary by region, and it's clearly a game-side issue, so it rightly belongs in the hands of the Crown, not the Board. So I beseech you: instead of further entrenching Corporate in this matter through expanded language, remove yourselves entirely from the situation and let the kingdoms sort it out individually.
Now, the main reason I'm writing to you. There have been several who've expressed concerns that same-sex monarchs will cause pageantry to diminish, and specifically that the lack of a female presence in the big seats will be a detriment to our idealized vision of the Middle Ages. These concerns are understandable. Even in the 21st century, there are several roles and duties which remain perceived as gender-specific in communities worldwide, and those perceptions become intensified when placed into the medieval theme in which our game is played. It's also easy to establish a hypothetical scenario by which these issues raised play out in a negative light, solidifying one's inherent belief that the proposal will doom the SCA. Fortunately, we needn't rely on hypotheticals, as we have a real-life example already in place.
At this point, there is only one same-sex pair of landed nobles in the SCA; Barons Giuseppe Francesco da Borgia and Giles Hill of the Barony of Gyldenholt, in Caid. In my capacity as Crescent Principal Herald, I am the top officer in the kingdom for pageantry and ceremony. I'm happy to report that the barony is thriving under Their Excellencies' tenure. Giles and Giuseppe have gone out of their way to ensure that women are well represented within the barony. Their officer corps is evenly split between men and women. Their guild leadership is overwhelmingly dominated by women. They have gone so far as to create a new polling order that is bestowed through them by the ladies of the barony. This ingenious model ensures that women are more than represented in their court; they are actively engaged in the governing process.
So, too, is pageantry thriving in Gyldenholt. At the recent Great Western War in October, the Barony of Gyldenholt camped together for what I understand was the first time in several years. Their camp boundary was marked by a line of brand new gonfalons displaying the baronial arms, and the entrance to their camp was flanked by two impressive torches that lit up half the camp on their own. When the baronial fighting unit marched out to the field, they were joined by the entire barony, playing drums and running flag drills in an impressive and distinguished display of baronial pride. While I can't speak for official numbers on recruitment and retention, I can observe that there is a notable increase in interest in heraldic participation in the barony, and it seems like general populace is growing and becoming more active.
Finally, I would like to point out that some of the most ardent detractors to the proposed same-sex baronial rule model have warmed to the idea in recent months, and have continued their participation in the barony. I have personally witnessed many in Caid, both men and women, who had previously spoken out against same-sex pairs on the baronial thrones change their mind once they experienced the reality of Their Excellencies' tenure. I feel confident that, if given the same amount of careful consideration that the Crown of Caid gave Giuseppe and Giles, a solid pairing of men or women could be just as effective at championing same-sex royalty in every single kingdom.
So, to sum up, I support same-sex pairings in Crown Lists, admonish the Board to trust the Crowns to prevent abuses of Corpora and otherwise regulate tournament participation based on the cultural needs of Their populace, and encourage all to look to Gyldenholt for an example of same-sex seated nobility actively benefiting the growth and pageantry of the Society.
Written at Poore House in the Barony of the Angels on the Feast of Saint Catherine in the forty-seventh year of the Society,
Crescent Principal Herald
Kingdom of Caid