SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Supreme Court of California has unanimously voted to ban judges in the state from working with groups such as the Boy Scouts of America due to their stance on homosexual behavior.
The court voted on the matter on Friday, taking up a recommendation from the court’s Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics.
“The Supreme Court adopted the recommendation … to eliminate an exception to an ethics rule that prohibits judges from holding membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or sexual orientation,” it explained in a press release.
In 1996, the court had banned judges from being involved with the groups that purportedly discriminate against others, but provided exceptions for youth and religious organizations. Friday’s vote removed the exceptions surrounding youth organizations.
“The only remaining exception to the general rule is membership in a religious organization,” explained Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Richard Fybel, chair of the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics. “One other exception—belonging to a military organization—was eliminated as well, because the U.S. armed forces no longer restrict military service based on sexual orientation.”
The proposed rule change had been open for public comment last year, but the amount of response from California citizens is not known, nor whether there were those who expressed opposition to barring judges from being involved with youth organizations that decry sexual activity between those of the same gender. However, the California Judges Association offered its support for the removal of the exception.
Judges will have until January 21, 2016 to comply. Currently, 22 states have similar judicial rules surrounding homosexuality.
While the Boy Scouts of America was not singled out in the rule change, which pertained to all youth organizations that “discriminate” in regard to sexuality, many believe that the Boy Scouts are the most notable group affected. Although, the scout national council voted in 2013 to allow “open or avowed homosexual” youth to enroll in the group, it retained its ban on homosexual leaders.
Due to concerns over the membership allowance, Boy Scout officials also announced that “[a] general move toward individual toilet and shower facilities” was in the works and that “[e]ach unit’s leadership along with their committee will be responsible for working with their parents to determine appropriate sleeping arrangements.”
It additionally released a Membership Standards Implementation manual that provided answers to frequently asked questions, such as, “How does the BSA define ‘morally straight?’”
“The Boy Scout Handbook continues to define ‘morally straight’ as ‘Your relationships with others should be honest and open,” it outlined. “Respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions and faithful in your religious beliefs. Values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”
Some still consider the Scouts to be “discriminatory” despite the changes, while a number of churches discontinued working with the organization as they viewed the move as being an unbiblical compromise.
“We don’t hate anybody,” said Mike Shaw of the First Baptist Church of Pelham, Alabama, which ended its partnership with the Boy Scouts in 2013. “We’re not doing it out of hatred. The teachings of the Scripture are very clear on this. We’re doing it because it violates the clear teaching of Scripture.”