WASHINGTON — The Cosmos Club, an all-male bastion of the capital's elite, is trying to end a 13-year-old debate over admitting women by asking prospective members to promise that they will not try to change its single-sex policy.
Over the objection of nearly a third of the club's 3,100 members, its board of management now requires a signed statement from all nominees "to recover a tranquil and sociable atmosphere . . . and maintain the Cosmos Club as a social club for men of accomplishment."
Prominent members include nuclear physicist Edward Teller, Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.), National Gallery of Art Director J. Carter Brown, U.S. Ambassador to West Germany Arthur F. Burns and former CIA Director William E. Colby.
The new policy was announced in a memorandum to members dated May 10 and distributed recently in the club's June bulletin. A copy of that memorandum was obtained by the Associated Press.
Under the new rules, a prospective member must be interviewed by the admissions committee and sign a statement that "he has no present intention to work actively to change the club's membership policy."
The club, founded in 1878, is under no legal obligation to accept women, but it has been facing growing internal pressure and outside criticism over its policy of accepting only "men interested in science or literature."