California lawmakers are considering taking some tax exemptions away from youth groups that do not accept gay, transgender or atheist members — a move intended to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay Scouts and troop leaders.Some cities have withdrawn free rent and other subsidies from the Boy Scouts over the years, but legislation introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara would make California the first state to target the Scouts for its anti-gay policy.
The Long Beach Democrat’s bill, SB 323, is scheduled for its first committee hearing on Wednesday.
“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 said. “SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups.”
The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed the Texas-based organization’s ban on openly gay members last summer then announced in January that it was revisiting the decision.
In February, the group said it would submit a resolution on rescinding the policy to the 1,400 members of Scouting’s National Council in May.
Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the organization was aware of Lara’s bill and would provide feedback on it to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee before Wednesday’s hearing.
“Beyond that, and our previous statements on membership standards, we don’t have anything to add at this time,” Smith said.