Senate Bill 323 passed out of the California Senate Governance and Finance Committee on a party-line vote, coming one step closer to becoming California law. Should SB 323 become law it would break new ground in using the tax system to punish those who are disliked by LGBT activists.
SB 323 would remove certain State tax exemptions for public charity youth organizations that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation.
While the target of this bill is the Boy Scouts (the Committee's official analysis says, "it is clearly aimed at them") its effects are much wider than that.
According to Karen England, Executive Director of Capitol Resource Institute, "SB 323 requires that youth sports leagues allow children of any gender to participate on any team. But the State intends to reach beyond the playing field and into locker rooms, showers and bathrooms also. This bill's prohibition on gender identity discrimination means that a boy claiming gender confusion is permitted to share those facilities with girls. Any attempt at segregation risks a fine in the form of taxes."
At the Committee hearing, proponents of the new law seemed genuinely angry that California's various pronouncements about sexuality are not being observed by certain youth organizations. "They seem to believe that the Legislature's labeling of so many things as discrimination should settle the issue," said England. "Of course they are wrong on the law and they have misjudged public opinion."
In the landmark case of Boy Scouts of America, et al. v. Dale the United States Supreme Court determined that the First Amendment right of "expressive association" trumped the laws of a state dealing with this same type of discrimination. The Boy Scouts were allowed to deny an openly homosexual man a leadership position in a local Scout troop even though the laws of the State declared such a denial to be impermissible discrimination.
According to England, "The public seems to agree with the Supreme Court. If a mother says she wants to choose the role models for her 12 year-old when sending him to a voluntary club, most of us do not equate her with the racist bent on bringing back segregation. We get it that tolerance is a two way street. And we are a little unnerved by the idea that those who currently hold political power in our State might now use that power to bankrupt any organization that does not agree with them."
"It is ironic that so many of those who are demanding that individuals be able to marry the one they choose would at the same time deny the right of the individual to simply choose his Scout leader," said England.
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