San Francisco, California — A bill proposed in the California legislature seeks to punish the local chapters of the Boy Scouts of America for prohibiting homosexual leaders and members from serving in the organization.
Senate Bill 323 was introduced last week by Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara, and serves to revoke the tax exempt status of any youth organization that excludes members who are homosexual. If passed, the bill would also keep the group from obtaining sales tax and corporate tax exemptions.
Lara said that he had planned to propose the bill earlier, but held off as it seemed that the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America might make a decision on the matter first. However, when the organization announced that it would postpone coming a conclusion until May, Lara felt that he should step in on the state level.
“It looks like they’re going to kick the can down the road, so I thought that here in California the very least that we can do is that those who decide to continue to discriminate will not continue to have the tax exemption,” he told reporters. “SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups by revoking their tax exemption privilege should they not comply with our non-discrimination laws.”
It is stated that the homosexual group Equality California also had a part to play in pushing the bill onward.
However, the Pacific Justice Institute, a Christian legal organization in Sacramento, has vowed to vigorously oppose the bill. It states that the legislation presents another conflict — forcing religious groups to choose between violating their faith or being punished for their beliefs.
“From the plain text of this bill, it is clear to us that SB 323 is one of the most outrageous bills we have seen in California—and that’s saying a lot,” stated Brad Dacus, president of the Institute. “We have been warning for years that the gay lobby would eventually use tax exemptions to force non-profits to capitulate to their demands, but it’s still shocking to see it actually in print and on its way to becoming law.”
The bill, in its current reading, states, “Notwithstanding any other law, an organization organized and operated exclusively as a public charity youth organization that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation shall not be exempt from taxes imposed by this part.”
Pacific Justice Institute notes that while the bill was designed to specifically pressure and punish the Boy Scouts, it will also have an affect on a number of other groups, such as the Special Olympics, Little League, Pop Warner, 4-H, Future Farmers of America, as well as general youth sports organizations.
In order to pass, a two-thirds majority is required in the legislature. It is unclear at this time whether or not passage is likely, and Governor Jerry Brown has declined to comment on the matter.
Although the Boy Scouts of America does not prohibit those struggling with same-sex attraction from serving as scouts, it has heretofore barred open homosexuals from joining a troop. The current policy reads, “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”