The California Senate overwhelmingly approved SB 323, a bill that cuts the tax exemption for any public charity youth organization that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and several other categories of identity. The bill specifically targets the Boy Scouts of America, who, despite their vote to allow gay Scouts last week, still discriminates against gay adults as volunteers and leaders. The vote was 27-9, marking the first time that an LGBT rights bill passed with a two-thirds majority.
The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D), who is openly gay. He opened his floor speech by reading the pledges of the several youth organizations, noting that the Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, Boys & Girls of America, and YMCA are all open to gay members, but the Boy Scouts stand alone in discriminating based on sexual orientation:
LARA: Members, we’ve given the Boy Scouts ample time to solve their discrimination problem and they’ve chosen a path that still leads to discrimination. The BSA’s recent vote to allow gay youth as members falls short of truly implementing a truly inclusive policy. While it is a step in the right direction, continuing the ban on LGBT adults is premised on absurd assumptions and stereotypes that perpetuate hate and homophobia.
What does this mean? Up to 17 you’re fine to be in the Boy Scouts and at the stroke of midnight on your 18th birthday you turn into a pedophile or a predator? What kind of warped message does this send?
If the bill becomes law, groups that discriminate like the Boy Scouts would have to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues, and camp fees as well as sales tax on food, beverages, and even homemade items sold at fundraisers.