The California Senate on Wednesday
approved a bill which seeks to remove a state tax exemption for any
youth group that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation or
The measure cleared the chamber with an
overwhelming 27-9 vote, making it the first LGBT rights bill to pass
with a two-thirds majority in California history.
Passage comes a week after the Boy
Scouts of America (BSA) agreed to end its ban on openly gay scouts.
But the organization plans to continue a ban against gay adults
involved in the organization, such as leaders, volunteers and BSA
Democratic Senator Richard Lara, the
bill's champion in the Senate, said the new policy didn't go far
“Members, we've given the Boy Scouts
ample time to solve their discrimination problem,” Lara told
colleagues on the Senate floor. “And they've chosen a path that
still leads to discrimination. The BSA's recent vote to allow gay
youth as members falls short of truly implementing a truly inclusive
policy. While it is a step in the right direction, continuing the
ban on LGBT adults is premised on absurd assumptions and stereotypes
that perpetuate hate and homophobia.”
“What does this mean? Up till 17
you're fine to be in the Boy Scouts and at the stroke of midnight on
your 18th birthday you turn into a pedophile or predator?
What kind of warped message does this send?”
The measure, Senate Bill 323, removes
tax exemption for sales and use taxes, as well as corporate taxes,
for youth groups which discriminate.
Karen England, executive director of
the Christian conservative Capitol Resource Institute, condemned the
“Senator Lara did not speak for us
all today when he claimed SB 323 brings our laws in line with our
values,” England said in a statement. “This bill is about
government vilifying our values and abusing its power to penalize,
through taxation, those who hold different beliefs and values. SB
323 is an unprecedented intrusion by the government and a far
reaching assault on freedoms of association, speech, and religion.”
The bill now moves to the Assembly.