California shelves anti-Boy Scout bill
by Angela Lu Fulton
Posted 9/13/13, 11:15 am
The California State Assembly sent its “anti-Boy Scout bill” to the inactive file Thursday, ensuring the legislation is dead for the remainder of the year.
If passed, the bill would have taken away tax exemptions for non-profit youth groups that ban members or leaders based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Youth groups include any group catering to minors that is not explicitly connected to the church, including Young Men Christian Association, Special Olympics, Future Farmers of America, and all youth sports.
Because the bill would have increased taxes, it needed a two-thirds vote in both houses to pass. While it passed through the Senate, the Long Beach Press-Telegram said the measure lacked one vote to pass through the California Assembly before the session ended today. Democrats won a supermajority in the state last November.
Sen. Ricard Lara, D-Long Beach, and LGBT rights group Equality California introduced the bill earlier this year in response to the debate over the Boy Scouts of America’s policy prohibiting openly gay members and leaders. In order to force the Boy Scouts’ hand, Lara claimed the group discriminates against homosexuals so should not get a tax exemption, which totals up to $250,000 a year.
When the group changed its policy to allow openly gay youth to join, Lara said he supported the move, but didn’t think it went far enough in allowing openly gay leaders, volunteers, or employees.
The bill can still be picked up again next year, and Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) said it will continue to “defend the beliefs of youth groups” if the bill revives in the future.
“Forcing Boy Scouts to allow biological females to camp with the boys because they identify as a boy is ludicrous,” said PJI President Brad Dacus.
He said the bill would be just the first step in taking away the rights of people the LGBT lobby doesn’t agree with: “SB 323 makes the atrocious attempt to force organizations to ultimately choose between changing their moral beliefs to align with those of the oppressive LGBT lobby, or shutting down their organization all together.”