Bill to punish Boy Scouts over gay policy shelved for the year

A youth looks over an exhibition in Salt Lake City of works by artist Norman Rockwell. A California bill that would remove tax-exempt status from the Boy Scouts of America for not allowing gay adult leaders was shelved Thursday.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

SACRAMENTO -- Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) decided Thursday to shelve for the year his proposal to eliminate the tax-exempt status of nonprofit groups such as the Boy Scouts of America that do not allow gay members.

Lara had won Senate approval of the bill, which would have affected state taxes only, even after the Boy Scouts decided to allow openly gay boys to become scouts. But he pursued the measure because the scouts national council did not lift its ban on gays serving as adult leaders.


On Thursday, SB 323 was transferred to the Legislature’s inactive file, which would allow Lara to bring the bill back up next year if he so chooses.

“Let me be very clear, SB 323 is alive and well,” Lara said in a statement. “As this is the first year to a two-year legislative session, we will be taking the next few months to work closely with all parties involved to address and refine this legislation.”

Lara added: “As session reconvenes in January, the passage of this bill and fighting against the discrimination of California’s LGBT community continues to be of paramount importance.”

The decision to sideline the bill was welcomed by Deron Smith, a spokesman for the scouts.

“More than ever, California’s youth need scouting and we are focused on the goals that unite us,” Smith said in an email. “Scouting remains undeterred in its belief that together we can accomplish incredible things for the youth we serve.”


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