I just sent this email to RWA.
Dear RWA Board:
I’m writing to request clarification of the situation with the amended rules for the Magic Writers Ink RWA chapter. By now, I’m sure you are all aware that they have amended their Contest rules to specifically exclude romances with same-sex couples as the romantic couple.
What I’m seeing on the web is that the RWI chapter believes it has the approval of RWA National for this rule change. I would like to know if that’s the case.
If it’s not, I would like a clarification for all chapters of what RWA intended when it (allegedly) gave RWI permission for this change.
If it is true, I wish to go on record as being in vehement opposition to such a ruling by the National organization. It is unfair. It is offensive. It is discriminatory. Authors who write same sex couples are not prohibited from joining RWA. Indeed, there is an official RWA chapter authors who write such works. To the best of my knowledge, they pay the same fee as every other member. I have certainly never seen anywhere that such authors pay a different membership fee. This being the case, what possible justification can there be for allowing an RWA chapter to introduce a rule that limits the ability of these authors to participate in RWA sponsored events?
There are two places in the P&P that I believe prohibit this discriminatory rule: I have highlighted the relevant text, and restate here: All members shall be eligible for rights, privileges and benefits…
Membership Benefits. All members of RWA (except Affiliate members) shall receive RWA’s official publications for which they are eligible, and may attend the Conference and enter the RITA or Golden Heart contest at the member rate. All members of RWA may join one or more RWA chapters, and shall be eligible for such other rights, privileges, and benefits provided from time to time by the Board.
Page 140 of the RWA Policies and Procedures states the following for chapters:
Section 4.7. Membership Benefits. All members of the chapter shall have the right to receive or access the chapter newsletter and to attend chapter meetings and shall be eligible for such other rights, privileges, and benefits [, all for such reasonable fees, if any,] as may be determined from time to time by the Board of Directors. Members may not transfer either membership or membership benefits to another person.
It is my belief that the clear intent of this language is that all members shall be treated equally.
The RWI rule amendment does NOT treat all members equally. Specifically, it excludes all chapters members who write same sex couples from entering their chapter contest. On the face of it, the rule also excludes most, if not all, members of the Rainbow chapter from entering. It also would exclude any other RWA member from entering if their entry fits the exclusion noted.
Can you please clarify RWA’s position on this matter as soon as possible?
I am, at the moment, having a very difficult time seeing how I could continue with membership in a professional organization that discriminates against certain of its members.
RWA # XXXXXXX