- (Photo: REUTERS/Fred Prouser)
A California-based progressive organization has launched an online petition effort in support of a bill that would strip the California chapter of the Boy Scouts of America of their tax exempt status.
Eddie Kurtz, campaigns director with the Courage Campaign, posted a petition at signon.org that calls for the California Legislature to approve Senate Bill 323. As of Friday, the petition has 9,200 signatures.
"Please ask the California Legislature to help pass SB 323. California should lead on this issue if Congress won't," reads the "petition background" section of the online effort. "Ending this tax break is the right thing to do, for the Boy Scouts and any other youth group in California which discriminates against members based on sexual orientation."
Kurtz, himself a former Boy Scout who got as high as the rank of "Life Scout," told The Christian Post that he started the petition because he has "always been troubled by BSA's position." "Discrimination is not in the public good, and California should not support it through a taxpayer subsidy," said Kurtz.
"This bill has no effect on an organization's ability to decide who can and cannot be a member. It simply says that an organization which chooses to exclude LGBT people cannot benefit from a special tax status."
Introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara on Wednesday, SB 323 adds "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" to the list of groups that a youth organization cannot discriminate against when determining membership.
"Notwithstanding any other law, an organization organized and operated exclusively as a public charity youth organization that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation shall not be exempt from taxes imposed by this part," reads SB 323's amendment to the current state tax code.
In order to succeed, SB 323 will require two-thirds majority vote from the California Legislature given that it involves changes to the state tax law. Kurtz of the Courage Campaign told CP that he was confident that the bill would pass.
"And in order to make sure that happens, organizations like Courage Campaign will need to mobilize the vast majority of Californians who don't want their tax dollars going to support bigotry, and make sure their representatives in Sacramento understand," said Kurtz.
The petition and proposed bill come as the Boy Scouts have garnered pressure from liberals and conservatives over their announcement earlier this year that they would reconsider their national ban on openly gay members and leaders.
The Family Research Council recently released an "action alert" telling supporters to encourage the BSA to stand strong against pressure from "corporate elites and homosexual activists." Their "Stand with the Boy Scouts" petition against removing the national ban on openly gay members has garnered over 22,000 signees.
The Golden Empire Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which is the California chapter of the BSA, did not return comment to The Christian Post by press time.