A California measure aimed at stripping the tax exempt status of nonprofit youth groups that are said to be discriminatory, such as the Boy Scouts of America, may come up for a vote Friday in the state Assembly.
The Youth Equality Act, which names the Boy Scouts, Little League, Future Farmers of America, and 19 other organizations, is the first of its kind in the nation that would eliminate the state tax exemption for groups that discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or religious affiliation, or nationality.
The measure has already passed the state Senate and has made it through the appropriate Assembly committees, according to The Washington Times
. Opponents of the measure, however, questions whether it has the necessary votes to pass the Assembly.
The measure introduced by state Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara also puts the tax-exempt status for public and private schools in jeopardy if they are found to discriminate for any of the named reasons. Opponents worry that it could put the tax exempt status of churches at stake as well.
"Traditional values regarding heterosexuality are being branded as the legal equivalent of racism, and so there's the quite genuine fear that the tax code really is the battleground against the traditional churches," Alan Reinach, executive director of the Church State Council, told The Washington Times.
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"It's not about 'live and let live.' If the churches do not conform to the values of homosexuality, then we will lose our standing in society," he added.
But John O'Connor, executive director of Equality California, said the state has no business supporting organizations that tolerate discrimination. He said the bill sends a strong message to groups that "discriminate against a young person or leader because of who they are or who they love.
Discrimination has a real cost," O'Connor added.
The Washington Times noted that lawmakers in at least one other state — New York — have introduced a similar measure.
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