Proposed California bill targets Boy Scouts' gay ban


Ryan Andresen made national headlines when the Boy Scouts denied him his Eagle award because he is gay. Wednesday, his father urged a state Senate committee to support a proposal to revoke the tax exempt status of non-profit youth groups in California that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation.

"It bothers me so much that the state of California, by giving preferential tax treatment to the Boy Scouts, is actually condoning their discriminatory policies," Eric Andresen said.

That means groups who do not change their policies would be taxed like a corporation for donations, membership dues and other sources of income -- a big financial blow.

But Eagle Scout Dale Broome says it's more about safety.

"The mixing of the two sexual orientations in a concentrated weekend camp/weeklong camp is just not a good mix; I think it puts children in a particular risk," Broome said.

For other non-profits, like Karen England's Christian leadership summer camp, they not only worry about losing their tax status, but also what inclusive policies mean.

"Of course, I can't allow a boy who believes he's a girl to be roommates or shower with the girls who come to this camp and vice versa," England said. "We will then have to close our doors and not be able to serve the youth of this state."

Because it's unclear if the Boy Scouts will approve a resolution next month rescinding the ban on gay members, the bill won its first committee approval with a promise to narrow the proposal so it only applies the Boy Scouts.

"The Boy Scouts is a great institution that empowers young people exposing our communities for the rest of our lives and I think no one should be excluded from that opportunity to participate," Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, said.

If the measure is signed into law, donations to the Boy Scouts will continue to be tax deductible, but the organization will have to count it as income, unless the policies change.

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