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2 ELKS LODGES OPENING DOORS TO WOMEN

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The Magic Valley's two largest Elks lodges have voted to open the way to membership by women in the nation's largest fraternal organization.

In separate votes, the Twin Falls and Burley lodges decided this month to go along with the recommendation of the leadership of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks to change the males-only requirement in the 127-year-old organization's constitution.That does not mean that the two lodges will immediately accept women for membership, however.

Every Elks lodge, including those in Jerome and Gooding, is voting on the proposal this month.

"Then it goes back to the national organization," said Bill Yurkevicius, exalted ruler of the Twin Falls lodge.

Nationally, the Elks have spent $1.3 million in recent years on five lawsuits filed by women trying to join the organization. The Elks lost but have appealed.

In July, the national convention of the 1.3 million-member organization decided to remove the male membership requirement, but the policy will be reconsidered after all local lodges vote.