US: California bill to remove tax-exempt status from Boy Scouts scheduled for first hearing

Joseph McCormick April 10, 2013
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A California bill which would remove the tax exempt status from youth groups such as the Boy Scouts of America, if they uphold policies excluding gay members, is to undergo its first committee hearing today.

The Boy Scouts of American is currently embroiled in a debate over whether to lift its ban on gay volunteers, members and staff. Earlier in February, it delayed a vote on whether or not to lift the ban until May “due to the complexity of the issue”.

The BSA would effectively be removing its national policy which does not allow gay people, and therefore allowing individual scout troops to decide whether or not to be inclusive.

The bill SB 323, introduced by Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara, would remove the tax-exempt status for groups such as the BSA which discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religion.

“Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the empowerment of our next generation; this is demonstrated by rewarding organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians,” Lara told the Associated Press. “SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups.”

If the bill, also known as the Youth Equality Act, were successful the BSA would be forced to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership and camp fees, and other sources of income.

It has been hailed as a move to put pressure on the Scouts to remove its ban on gay volunteers, members and staff.

Because it requires a change to California tax law, Bill 323 would require a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature to pass.

A new poll released earlier in February found that a majority of US voters thought the Boy Scouts of America should drop its ban on gay scouts, volunteers and staff.

Earlier this week, the President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins voiced his opinion that the Boy Scouts of America should leave intact the ban, saying that a policy similar to the repealed ban on openly gay people serving in the military would be appropriate. 

More: Americas, Boy Scouts of America, BSA, California, ricardo lara, Senate, US, youth equality act

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