Calif. tax bill aimed at Boy Scouts of America revived

Would strip ‘discriminatory’ groups of tax-exempt status

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A traditional-values group in California is raising the alarm over the just-revived bill to strip youth groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America, of their preferential tax status.

“Having already passed through the Senate and several Assembly committees, the bill merely needs a floor vote to advance out of that chamber and then head to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, where it is almost certain to earn his signature,” Lori Arnold, research analyst for California Family Alliance, wrote Friday.

The first-of-its-kind Youth Equality Act would end tax-exempt status in California for any youth-serving charities — and schools that sponsor such charities — that discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identify and religious affiliation.

The bill had been deemed inactive in September; however, the bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat and openly gay lawmaker, recently filed a request to put the bill back on the active list as of Monday.

SB 323 names a number of potentially affected youth organizations, but the BSA has long been a primary target — and remains a target, since the BSA disallows openly gay adults to be volunteers, leaders or employees.

The BSA’s 2013 change in membership policy — to permit openly gay youth to join Scouts — was insufficient, Mr. Lara said last year.

Gay rights groups support SB 323, saying Californians do not support discrimination against sexual minorities and “certainly shouldn’t pay for it” by permitting discriminatory groups to escape paying full taxes on sales of property, food, beverages and other goods.

The California Family Alliance urged its members to call their lawmakers, noting that the tax bill requires a two-thirds majority vote and “is not a done deal.” Some 54 of the chamber’s 80 members must approve it.

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About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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