- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2013

California lawmakers declined Thursday to pass a bill to strip Boy Scouts of America and other “discriminatory” youth groups of their tax-exemption status.

The first-of-its-kind bill needed a supermajority of 54 votes to pass the California Assembly before its session ends Friday. But SB 323 was instead sent to the inactive file. The move ends its journey this year but permits it to be revived in 2014.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram said the measure lacked one vote.

Bill sponsor State Sen. Ricardo Lara could not be immediately be reached for comment. But he said earlier that the Youth Equality Act was needed to bring youth-serving groups’ tax exemptions “in line” with state nondiscrimination laws, especially those that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. His bill would have prohibited youth-serving groups from getting tax-exempt status if they discriminated based on gender identity, sexual orientation, or in other ways.

Traditional-values and religious groups opposed the bill, saying it would force nonprofit organizations to adopt the government’s viewpoint on such things as sexual orientation and gender identity.

“SB 323 makes the atrocious attempt to force organizations to ultimately choose between changing their moral beliefs to align with those of the oppressive LGBT lobby, or shutting down their organization all together,” said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute.

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“Forcing Boy Scouts to allow biological females to camp with the boys because they identify as a boy is ludicrous,” Mr. Dacus added.

The Calvary Assembly of God, Capitol Resource Institute, First Christian Church, Lighthouse Baptist Church, and Traditional Values Coalition also opposed the bill. The bill named Boy Scouts of America and numerous other youth-serving organizations as targets for the measure.

After the Boy Scouts of America amended its membership policy to permit openly gay youth to join, Mr. Lara applauded that move. But he said that the BSA didn’t go far enough because it kept its policy not to permit openly gay adults as Scout leaders, volunteers or employees.

The act also named Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, Little League, Girl Scouts, Young Men’s Christian Association, 4-H Clubs, Special Olympics Inc., American Youth Soccer Organization and Pop Warner football. Some of these groups have told The Washington Times they do not discriminate and had no idea why they were named in the bill.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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