As previously reported, Senate Bill 323 (SB323) was first introduced in mid-February by Ricardo Lara, a Democratic state senator from Los Angeles. Lara is himself an open homosexual, as well as a member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. According to the bill’s introduction, SB323 would “provide that an organization that is a public charity youth organization that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation is not exempt from [state taxes].”
Later in the legislation, approximately 25 youth organizations are specifically listed as entities that would have to embrace these “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” guidelines, or else lose their tax-exempt standing. Little League, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, 4-H Clubs, Boys’ Clubs, and Girls’ Clubs are all included.
Proponents of SB323—commonly referred to as the “Anti-Boy Scouts Bill”—herald the legislation as a long-overdue measure to end unfair discrimination in many organizations. John O’Conner of Equality California said the bill would “make it clear … that discrimination has a real cost,” and Senator Lara described his bill as a means to end organizations’ “outdated practices.”
“Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the empowerment of our next generation,” Lara stated. “This is demonstrated by rewarding organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians. SB323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups by revoking their tax exemption privilege should they not comply with our non-discrimination laws.”
However, a news release from Lori Arnold of the California Family Alliance argued that the “Anti-Boy Scouts Bill” is both self-contradicting and unconstitutional.
“The irony of the proposed law,” Arnold wrote, “is that its blatant use of extortion—by holding nonprofit groups financially hostage—instills its own form of discrimination by trampling individual and organizational religious beliefs by labeling them ‘outdated practices,’ practices that are protected by the First Amendment.”
Similarly, Matthew McReynolds of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) stated that “the bill’s imposition of ‘gender identity’ acceptance on virtually all youth sports in California is untenable and out of step with the reasonable privacy expectations,” and also “establishes a gender-blind scheme that most parents believe to be absurd.”
On Thursay, PJI reported that SB 323 had been moved into the “inactive file” in the state Assembly as legislators were uncertain as to whether the measure would receive enough votes. It had passed the Senate previously with a vote of 6-3.
Therefore, the bill will not come up for a vote for the remainder of 2013, but is stated to possibly be reintroduced 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. “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.”