SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – A state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow California to strip the tax exempt status from youth groups, including the Boy Scouts of America, if they have policies that exclude gay members.
The issue of gay exclusion from the Boy Scouts was brought to national prominence last year when Moraga’s Ryan Andresen was kicked out after 12 years of participation and denied the rank of Eagle Scout after coming out as gay.
The Scouts announced last month that they would consider a proposal to let the sponsor of each individual troop decide its own policy on gays, but have delayed a formal decision until at least May amid intense pressure from both sides of the issue.
State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles) introduced California Senate Bill 323, also known as the Youth Equality Act, on Wednesday to force the hand of the Boy Scouts. The move creates mixed feelings for Eric Andresen, father of the Moraga teen, who has long supported the scouts.
“This is one of many consequences that may come into play if they continue to be discriminatory and in California. It’s really not acceptable at all,” said Eric Andresen. “I don’t want to see troops folding because they’ve lost funding.”
About 70 percent of all Scout units are sponsored by religious denominations, including many that have supported the ban on gays. On Tuesday, the nation’s largest Protestant group called on members of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America to uphold the ban on gay Scouts.
Eric Andresen said he doesn’t want the scouts to change their policy simply for tax advantages, but to understand why his family went public with this fight five months ago.
“Boy scouts of America needs to catch up to the 21st century. Discrimination is not okay anymore, no matter where you are and they need to stop this policy,” he said. “I think, if the State of California has an opportunity to make it clear that discrimination is not acceptable, then this is an appropriate bill to put forward.”
The bill requires a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature because it requires changes to California tax law.
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