RWA has issued a press release in the wake of the considerable public outcry over its Romance Writers Ink affiliate. Perhaps others will find more satisfaction in this response than I do.
RWA members are served by 145 local and special interest chapters, and those chapters are individually incorporated and governed. So long as chapters fulfill their obligations under state law, as well as RWA and chapter bylaws, and their programs and services support the professional interests of career focused romance writers, policy affords them rather broad latitude in determining which programs and services to offer. Absent policy governing chapter-level contests, RWA’s board cannot intervene in the decisions of individual chapters.
Romance Writers of America does not condone discrimination of any kind. RWA’s policies regarding chapter programs and services will be discussed when the board reconvenes in March.
We shall see what kind of policy change they come up with in March.
The specific chapter has responded to the outcry by cancelling the contest completely. There may have been some who responded to their contest restrictions with the exact amount of derision it deserved, although civil discourse generally serves better. Their announcement:
After much consideration, RWI regretfully announces the MTM Published Author Contest has been cancelled. All monies and books received from entrants will be returned as soon as possible. We have heard and understood the issues raised, and will take those concerns into consideration should the chapter elect to hold contests in the future. Please note: our contest coordinator, Jackie, is a chapter member who graciously volunteered to collect entries and sort by category. It is unfortunate that she has become the object of personal ridicule and abuse. We recognize the decision to disallow same-sex entries is highly charged. We also opted not to accept YA entries. We do not condone discrimination against individuals of any sort.
Could have fooled me.
Their home page is conspicuously missing today. Their mission statement, however, is not. Bolding is mine.
The purpose of RWI is to promote excellence in romantic fiction, to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy, to provide a general basis of mentorship to any writer who is actively, and seriously striving to become published and thus establish a career in the romance genre, as well as to provide a camaraderie for writers within the romance publishing industry.
Both RWA and RWI are going to have to show me, because telling me isn’t all that convincing.