The Third Tradition, whose spiritual Principle is Identity, relates only to requirements for membership. It does not refer to additional requirements that a group may develop for the effective transaction of group business.
Many groups institute attendance and/or abstinence requirements for participation in group conscience meetings and serving the group. For instance, the appointment of a group Treasurer who offered to do the service at their first or second meeting might not be a good choice for fulfilling this service. This may extend to participation in, and the right to vote at, scheduled group conscience meetings.
This doesn’t apply to on-the-fly group votes such as opening a window or turning on air conditioning when it’s too warm in the room. This refers to groups who have monthly or quarterly scheduled group conscience meetings to handle issues affecting the group; elections of trusted servants, changes to the meeting format, and other significant changes. It also works best when a group holds a separate business meeting rather than one in the midst of a recovery meeting.
Concept Three, “The right of decision, based on trust, makes effective leadership possible,” allows the delegation of these decisions to the group, as long as doing so doesn’t affect OA as a whole. This concept allows a group of interested members (who fulfill any previously adopted requirements for attendance or abstinence) to make decisions for the group as a whole. If every decision had to be brought to a general meeting, very few decisions would be made.
Concept Four, “The right of participation ensures equality of opportunity for all in the decision-making process,” allows all members to participate as long as they fulfill any requirements that may have been set by the group. For example, a group may decide ahead of time that members who wish to participate in a group conscience meeting must have attended the meeting for more than a month and have at least sixty days of abstinence. What cannot be added is any requirement that they must go to some number of specific meetings (other than the one holding the group conscience); nor can there be any requirement that their abstinence be defined by using a specific food plan.
Concept Twelve (e) states: “No service action shall ever be personally punitive or an incitement to public controversy.” This has nothing to do with participation in a group conscience vote unless a group determined to “ban” a person from group conscience decisions forever. People make mistakes—in life as well as within Overeaters Anonymous. When this happens, a person may be removed from a position, but gossip regarding the removal, or deciding that the person can no longer participate at all due to their mistake, would exceed the guidance of this concept.
So, a group may implement guidelines and requirements for participation in that group’s decisions; just be aware that these requirements cannot be used to exclude members for any non-recovery-related issue, nor can they be specific to the exclusion of an individual.