(Photo: REUTERS/David Manning)
A conservative pastor who opposes a proposed bill in California that would remove the Boy Scouts of America's tax exemption status has stated that the effort could backfire on gay rights advocates.
The Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition, told The Christian Post that Calif. Senate Bill 323 "may never see a vote."
"Maybe this will be the beginning of cracking the steel fist of the Democratic Party over the people of California," said Sheldon.
"This may be the beginning of the homosexual agenda's demise and the pounding of their propaganda spoons against the empty bowl of false perceptions. This will be something to carefully watch. It could ramify into many other states."
Introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara, 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 in part.
Sheldon took issue with the proposed legislation, believing that the bill was an effort to harm the Boy Scouts of America over their national policy banning openly gay members.
"It is obvious that the author has no interest in the welfare of the Boy Scouts or he would not be promoting their destruction," said Sheldon.
"He has no interest in the welfare of the child who wants to say he is homosexual. At this age they are way too young and do not yet have the developmental skills to make such a decision."
SB 323, which was read for the first time and referred to committee last week, has gained the support of many California LGBT rights activists.
Eddie Kurtz, campaigns director with the progressive organization the Courage Campaign, posted a petition online calling for the California Legislature to approve Senate Bill 323. As of Monday, it has over 9,800 signatures or less than 200 short of its stated goal.
In an earlier interview with The Christian Post, Kurtz explained that he felt SB 323 "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. Discrimination is not in the public good, and California should not support it through a taxpayer subsidy," said Kurtz, himself a former Boy Scout.
Given that it is in regards to changing state tax law, SB 323 will require a two-thirds majority vote of support from the California Legislature in order to succeed.
The proposed legislation was introduced as the national leadership of the Boy Scouts mulls over a possible change in its membership policy regarding openly homosexual individuals. A final decision is expected in May.