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California Bans Judges From Participating in Boy Scouts Over Its Policy Prohibiting Gay Troop Leaders

Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America troop members attend a Memorial Day weekend commemorative event in Los Angeles, California, in this May 25, 2013, file photo. |

The California Supreme Court has instituted a policy that prohibits state judges from participating in the Boy Scouts of America because it doesn't allow openly gay adults to become troop leaders.

California Bans Judges From Participating in Boy Scouts Over Its Policy Prohibiting Gay Troop Leaders

Earlier this year the court voted unanimously to change the California Code of Judicial Ethics, removing an exemption allowing membership in youth organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, that it claims practice discrimination.

While the Boy Scouts voted in 2013 to lift its ban on openly gay youth members, it maintained its policy prohibiting openly gay adults from actively participating in troop activities or becoming troop leaders. The Christian Post contacted the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday, but a spokesperson declined to comment on the California cout's decision.

Cathal Conneely, a spokesperson for the Judicial Council of California, provided CP with a statement about the court's actions.

"The proposed rule change was sent out for public comment last year, and the change was supported by the California Judges Association," reads the statement, in part. "The amended rule is now consistent with the American Bar Association's Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Judges will have until Jan. 21, 2016, to comply with the new rule."

Conneely added that "the court's action eliminated an exception for nonprofit youth organizations" in general, and not just the Boy Scouts.

"Of the 22 states with sexual orientation as a protected class, California was the only state with this type of exemption — it is now consistent with the other 21 states," Conneely told CP.

Richard D. Fybel, chair of the Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics, added in the statement released in January: "The only remaining exception to the general rule is membership in a religious organization."

"One other exception — belonging to a military organization — was eliminated as well, because the U.S. Armed Forces no longer restrict military service based on sexual orientation, continued "Fybel, who also serves as a justice on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While first approved by the state supreme court in January, the changes to the code of conduct policy that effectively bans judges from participating in youth groups like the Boy Scouts has just recently garnered headlines.

In an article posted on Monday, National Public Radio covered the change and included protestations from some within the state judiciary over the change.

"I don't think that a person appearing in my court would think that I'm biased or unfair simply because I help my sons out in their Boy Scout troop," San Diego Judge Julia Kelety told NPR. "The issue is whether individual judges can choose in their private lives to be involved in an organization that has tremendous qualities and provides tremendous support for young people."

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