Wall Street Journal: California Bill Targets Scouts Over Gay Ban

February 19, 2013

Wall Street Journal
California Bill Targets Scouts Over Gay Ban

SAN FRANCISCO—A California state senator introduced a bill Tuesday to remove a tax exemption for any youth group, including the Boy Scouts of America, that bars some members on the basis of sexual orientation.

The bill, from Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from near Los Angeles, would keep such groups from getting state-sales-tax and corporate-tax exemptions. It comes after the Boy Scouts this month delayed until May a decision on whether to end the group's ban on gay members.

Mr. Lara said he had considered proposing the bill earlier but wanted to wait until the Scouts' February meeting to see whether its leadership would change its policy on its own. "It looks like they're going to kick the can down the road, so I thought that here in California the very least that we can do is that those who decide to continue to discriminate will not continue to have the tax exemption," he said.

A Boy Scouts spokesman didn't respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Lara said he didn't know how much the Scouts now save through the exemptions or how much they would be expected to lose, if the bill passes.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Jerry Brown said she wouldn't comment because the bill hadn't reached the Democratic governor's desk.

Write to Vauhini Vara at vauhini.vara@wsj.com