SB 323 Passes – Attack on Boy Scouts Continues

Separate but Unequal

California’s SB 323 came one step closer to becoming the law of the Golden State as the bill easily passed out of the California Senate Governance and Finance Committee.  Should SB 323 become law it would break new ground in using the tax system to punish those who are disliked by the 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.  But in today’s committee hearing the proponents clamed that the bill would not affect those youth programs organized under the structure of a religious body.  The Boy Scouts meeting at the local Presbyterian Church need not comply with the law, but the Scout troop meeting next door at the community center could lose its tax exemption if it restricts who can be troop leader.  This oddity has led to the description of the proposed law as proudly promoting State treatment that is “separate but unequal”.


That disparity should raise a few eyebrows and demand further explanation.  Apparently we are to conclude that a club that determines that a homosexual man should not be its leader is deemed so heinous that the organization should be punished into conformity by taxation.  But if the youth group meets in a church, never mind.  In allowing such an exception, the proponents implicitly admit that the State should show tolerance for different membership and leadership policies.


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.  This is good only because it means there will be other organizations expressing their opposition.  While one uniformed Scout leader at the Committee hearing did his organization proud, another former Scout would not have earned a merit badge for his performance.  He alluded to pressure for greater diversity in the Scouts and signaled that given time the Scout policies evolve and would change.  The discussion of discrimination presumably would soon be moot. 


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 based 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.


Proponents of the new law seem genuinely angry that California’s various pronouncements about sexuality are not being observed by certain youth organizations.  They have declared certain things to be discrimination and that should be the end of the issue.  But of course the law and public opinion, for now, say otherwise.


In a landmark case dealing with the Boy Scouts in 2000, 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. 


The public seems to agree.  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 are attempting to 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.

Thumbs Up!

Thank you to Senator Knight for openly opposing this attack on freedom of association and free speech! 

Join with CRI in the Battles of the Future
Capitol Resource Institute’s mission is to educate, advocate, protect, and defend family-friendly policies in California’s state legislature and at the local government level.  Capitol Resource Institute is  a 501c3 non-profit organization and all donations are tax-deductible.


If you benefit from the work CRI performs on behalf of families, please consider a

Mail checks to:


660 J Street, Suite 250

Sacramento, CA 95814

Make an Online Donation