0422 – Proposal 3: Preamble

Proposal 3: Revise the AA Preamble wherever it appears in our form letters and on our website to reflect the October 2021 General Service Conference decision to change the wording in AA’s Preamble from “men and women” to “people.”

Recommended Language
Summary of Comments
Results of Voting

Rationale: At the 71st General Service Conference annual meeting (April 2021), a revision to the AA Preamble was approved through advisory action. The change replaced the words “men and women” with the word “people” in the first sentence of the Preamble. The language has been changed on the AA website. GROW should reflect this decision in the Preamble where it appears in our correspondence and on our website.

In our October 2021 meeting, we discussed the change. Most of the comments expressed strong opposition to changing a word of the Big Book. However, the Preamble isn’t in the Big Book. The Big Book was published in 1939. The Preamble was written by Grapevine editors in 1947.

Each AA group is autonomous and should decide whether they want to adopt this change. No AA group is required to read the Preamble at its meetings. In fact, AA groups have adopted similar but different Preamble language in the past. For example, the Texas AA adopted a very long preamble, but individual AA groups in Texas choose whether to use it.

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Recommended Language: Change the first sentence in the Preamble included in the Weekly Format Letter (used by the Weekly Leader Listkeeper) as follows:

“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.”

During the first 3-day session, we will discuss Proposal3. Please send your comments to grow-business@oso-aa.org before midnight (your time) on Monday, April 4th.

Please remember to include the proposal number in the subject line of your message.

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Summary of Comments

Twelve people commented on Proposal 3 to change “men and women” to “people” in GROW’s Preamble.

As background, this change was approved at the 71st General Service Conference annual meeting in April 2021 as a non-binding advisory action. By Tradition, each AA group is autonomous and can make its own decision about whether to change the Preamble it uses in its meetings. It’s impossible to know what decision the thousands of individual AA meetings are making for their own group. This is a Group Conscience decision at a profound level.

One writer commenting on the change in a white paper pointed out that many groups and AA organizations at higher levels have written their own preambles in the past, citing a state-level decision in Texas to create a much longer and more detailed Preamble. Living in Texas, I can testify that no group I’ve been to here uses the Texas version.

The change does not involve our basic text. It is not suggested that Big Book language should be changed. The Preamble was developed years after the BB’s first publication.

During the first days of commenting, there appeared to be consensus for approving the wording change. However, one participant submitted a persuasive argument that the language should not be changed based on, among other things, AA’s Traditions – specifically Tradition 3 (“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”), Tradition 4 (“Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.”), and Tradition 10 (“Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”).

The commenter also cited language in the first paragraph of the Preamble, pointing out an inherent contradiction between the advisory action and the claim that “A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” After reading the opposing viewpoint, several participants commented that they would not support the change, and discussion of this proposal continued late into the night.

We will vote on Proposal 3 to change the Preamble that GROW uses in its weekly meeting and wherever it appears on our website. Voting will end late on Thursday, April 7th. The Chair will report on the outcome in the summary of our second 3-day session.

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Results of Voting

Sixteen (16) women (69%) voted on Proposal 3 to change the language in the Preamble contained in the Weekly Lead format letter and anywhere it appears on the website. Eleven (11) voted in favor of the change, and five (5) voted against it. The vote exceeds the requirement for a 2/3 majority.

During the third 3-day session, we invite those who voted against the proposal to submit a Minority Opinion explaining their position. If anyone changes their vote as a result of the Minority Opinion(s), we will have a re-vote. If no one changes their vote as a result, the vote stands and the proposal becomes a Group Conscience Decision.

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