SACRAMENTO (AP) — The state Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would use California’s tax policy in an attempt to pressure the Boy Scouts of America into fully accepting gay members.
The bill would make the organization ineligible for nonprofit tax breaks, despite its vote last week to accept openly gay scouts while blocking gays from becoming scout leaders.
Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens said that policy means gays can join the scouts only until they turn 18.
“Equality does not have an expiration date,” he said. “Discrimination should not be subsidized.”
Scouting leaders have objected that the bill would harm local troops that serve 180,000 California youth. Conservative legal aid groups have promised to sue if the measure becomes law on the grounds that it would punish an organization based on its beliefs.
Lara’s SB323 would deny state tax breaks to youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation. It passed the Senate with a 27-9 vote, with the minimum two-thirds majority needed to alter the state’s tax policy.
It now goes to the Assembly. If the bill is eventually signed into law by the governor, the groups would have to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues and camp fees, while also paying sales tax on food, beverages and homemade items sold at fundraisers.
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