CA senator seeks to coerce Boy Scouts, other nonprofits

July 9, 2013

By Katy Grimes


Government should not be in the business of dictating the policies and religious convictions of private groups and charities. But that is exactly what one California lawmaker is attempting.

Senate Bill 323 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would strip organizations like the Boy Scouts of their tax-exempt status if they don’t abandon their long-held values, regardless of the fact that boys and parents voluntarily sign up for Boy Scouts.

Supporters of SB 323 contend they are not dictating the views of a nonprofit organization. But that’s exactly what they are trying to do by  rewarding only nonprofits that adopt their viewpoint on sexual orientation and gender identity with tax-exempt status.

But SB 323 doesn’t just take aim at the Boy Scouts. Girl Scouts, Little League, YMCA, Future Farmers of America, 4-H, and Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs are all on Lara’s hit list.  Even Special Olympics, American Youth Soccer and Pop Warner football are named.

This bill, named the “Youth Equality Act,” threatens these wholesome kid-focused nonprofit organizations with being taxed and stripped of current tax exemptions if they do not embrace the state’s policies on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill requires the state’s policies be incorporated  into the organizations’ hiring, practices, membership, objectives and activities — the very definition of statism.

What happened to the freedom to choose?

Hatred of Boy Scouts hits a new high

Last year, the California Assembly refused to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Boy Scouts by rejecting a bill by Assemblyman Mike Morell, R-Rancho Cucamonga.

This year, Sen. Lara has taken the left’s hatred of the Boy Scouts to a higher level of government punishment.

ricardo_lara-15976“They [Boy Scouts] are out of line with the values of California and should be ineligible for a tax benefit paid for by all Californians,” Lara said when he introduced SB 323 in the Senate. “SB 323 brings our laws into line with our values.”

But Lara wasn’t talking to the people of California when he made that statement; he was addressing his liberal colleagues in the Senate.

This way of thinking by the far left supposes that any and all tax benefits a person or group receives in California are “paid for by all Californians.” This requires the belief that what we earn is not ours in the first place, and instead belongs to everyone.

Lara’s “values” are not the same as most taxpaying California residents — his bio lists his previous jobs as “community activist,” “political aid” and “longtime Assembly staffer.” Prior to running for Assembly, Lara was  appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the powerful Los Angeles Planning Commission. Lara worked for Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and  Sen. Kevin De Leon before finally mounting his own run for Assembly.

Boy Scouts’ huge concession isn’t enough

The Boy Scouts of America’s National Council recently modified its longstanding policy to now allow Scouts to be of any “sexual orientation or preference.” Whether you agree with the decision or not, in doing so, the century-old Boy Scouts gave up its freedom to practice the values the organization was built on. It was these leadership values which helped shape millions of boys — all of whom voluntarily joined.

With its new guidelines allowing homosexual-identifying youths to become members, the Boy Scouts’ policy still prohibits openly homosexual adults from serving as leaders, a policy created at the behest of parents several decades ago.

For decades, the Scouts fought the membership policy change. With support from millions of parents across the country who just wanted their kids to be able to participate in an organization that hadn’t been politicized, and had remained true to its historical mission, the thought of activists and politicians infiltrating and taking advantage of a few abusive leadership positions infuriated most families involved in scouting.

Same-sex schools and other institutions imperiled

There is also criticism of the bill because the language leaves open the meaning of gender identity.

“An expansive definition of gender identity could have unintended (or possibly intended) consequences on nonprofit schools and institutions that have traditionally been all-boys or all-girls,” the bill analysis said.

AllianceLogoThe Alliance Defending Freedom is fighting SB 323 and sent a letter to the Legislature explaining that if the bill is passed, many nonprofit youth organizations will be forced “to choose between following their core values and beliefs and losing their tax exemptions or abandoning their beliefs to comply with the law.”

“Freedom of association would prove an empty guarantee if associations could not limit control over their decisions to those who share the interests and persuasions that underlie the association’s being,” the Alliance Defending Freedom letter said. “The First Amendment protects the freedom of youth organizations to associate with members and leaders who share their values. Our youth deserve to continue to benefit from these groups, and bills like SB 323 severely threaten their ability to do so.”

SB 323 was passed by the Senate on a thin margin in May, (27-9, with 3 abstaining) and now awaits a hearing in the Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee. The bill requires a two-thirds vote for passage.

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