Boy Scouts Could Lose Tax-Exempt Status in California Because of Gay Ban

A new bill (SB 323) proposed by openly gay California state senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would strip the Boy Scouts' tax exempt status for discriminating against members and leaders on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBT POV reports:

LaraCurrently, organizations that discriminate on these grounds may still receive sales [see items BSA sells here] and corporate tax exemptions, a provision that is intended to encourage acting in the public interest,” according to a joint press release. “SB 323 would end this exemption for youth groups that continue to discriminate by treating their sales to the same extent as any other retailers. This bill would also require organizations with discriminatory policies to pay corporate taxes on donations and other forms of income.

“Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the empowerment of our next generation; this is demonstrated by rewarding organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians,” stated Senator Lara. “SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups by revoking their tax exemption privilege should they not comply with our non-discrimination laws.”

The SF Chronicle adds:

The amount of financial benefits scouting organizations in California receive through their state tax-exempt status is not clear, and backers of the measure said they would seek that information from the Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization as the bill moves through the legislative process. Proponents did say the measure would affect the Boy Scouts in particular, and hope a push in California will add pressure to the national scouting organization, based in Irving, Texas, as leaders there consider any changes.

"I thought it was necessary for California to make sure we don't condone the discriminating practices of youth groups like the Boy Scouts of America," Lara said about the timing of the bill as the national organization wrestles with whether to make a change. "We've given the Boy Scouts ample time, and they've chosen not to address this issue."