Calif. Legislature Tables Bill Aimed at Stripping Boy Scouts of Tax Exemption Status

A state bill that would have stripped the Boy Scouts of America of its tax exempt status if passed has been tabled by the California Legislature.

State Senate Bill 323, a proposal that would have amended the state tax code, was tabled by lawmakers on Thursday.  Introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara in February, 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 required two-thirds majority vote from the California Legislature given that it involved changes to the state tax law.

SB 323 garnered much support from organizations that support LGBT activism, including the progressive group the Courage Campaign.  Eddie Kurtz, campaigns director with the Courage Campaign, posted a petition on the group's website advocating for the bill.  "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," reads the petition in part.

SB 323 was not without its critics, including the Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition. Sheldon told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that if anything the bill would create a backlash.  "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," said Sheldon.

SB 323 initially passed the Senate after third reading and an amending process in a vote of 27 ayes to 9 nays. Though it passed committee in the Assembly in August, according to the Press Telegram is lacked sufficient votes for passage.

In a statement, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown expressed his approval of the tabling.

"We're pleased that common sense prevailed in this case. This bill was put forward to punish groups that refused to embrace the radical homosexual agenda including same-sex marriage," said Brown.

The tabling comes months after the national Boy Scouts of America opted to change its membership standards to allow openly gay youths to join. At present, BSA membership standards still bar openly gay scouts from becoming leaders.

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