Lawmaker threatens tax status of Boy Scouts for excluding gays

February 25, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • A 2012 photo shows then-Assistant Scoutmaster Greg Bourke in Kentucky. Bourke says he was forced to resign from the Boy Scouts because he is gay.
A 2012 photo shows then-Assistant Scoutmaster Greg Bourke in Kentucky.… (Associated Press )

A Southland lawmaker has proposed taking away the tax-exempt status of the Boy Scouts of America if it continues to exclude gay, bisexual and transgender people from its ranks.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) has introduced legislation that would remove state tax-exempt status from any group that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups by revoking their tax exemption privilege should they not comply with our non-discrimination laws," he said.

The scouting organization is in the middle of an internal debate about its policy on gays. Asked about the Lara bill, Deron Smith, a spokesman for the organization, said, "We're aware of this proposal but don't have anything to add."

The bill is supported by the gay rights group Equality California.

"California does not tolerate discrimination, and by removing this exemption, we will make it clear to the Boy Scouts and all other organizations that discrimination has a real cost," said John O’Connor, executive director of the group.


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