California Bill Could Make Boy Scouts Lose Tax Break for Gay Ban

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A California senator has introduced a bill that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the nondiscrimination policies of tax-exempt youth groups, something which could particularly affect the anti-gay Boy Scouts of America.

The measure was drafted by openly gay Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, in Los Angeles County, who also introduced it on Feb. 19. Proponents of the bill say they hope the legislation will put pressure on the BSA to lift its long ban on gay members, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“I thought it was necessary for California to make sure we don't condone the discriminating practices of youth groups like the Boy Scouts of America,” Lara told the Chronicle. “We've given the Boy Scouts ample time, and they've chosen not to address this issue.”

If passed, the bill would prohibit any student groups or sports and activity groups organized through public or private schools from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Those groups that do not abide by the law would not get any tax breaks.

According to the Chronicle, it would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature in order for the bill to pass because the measure involves changes to California's tax code.

The Boy Scouts announced in late January plans to reconsider dropping the ban on gay members.

Last year, the BSA voted to reaffirm the policy banning gay scout members and scout leaders after a two-year examination. Back in 2000, the Supreme Court found that it was part of the organization’s first First Amendment right of free expression to allow only “morally straight” people to join its ranks.


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