California would strip the tax-exempt status from youth organizations like the Boy Scouts if they have policies that bar gay people from participating, under a bill introduced at the Capitol Tuesday.
The measure, SB323, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County), comes as the national Boy Scouts of America is considering changes to its policy barring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from serving as scouts or as leaders in the organization.
The amount of financial benefits scouting organizations in California receive through their state tax-exempt status is not clear, and backers of the measure said they would seek that information from the Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization as the bill moves through the legislative process. Proponents did say the measure would affect the Boy Scouts in particular, and hope a push in California will add pressure to the national scouting organization, based in Irving, Texas, as leaders there consider any changes.
“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 said about the timing of the bill as the national organization wrestles with whether to make a change. “We’ve given the Boy Scouts ample time, and they’ve chosen not to address this issue.”