A petition urging California legislature to end tax-exempt status for anti-gay Boy Scouts of America reached over 10,000 signatures Tuesday.
The petition, created Thursday by straight former Boy Scout Eddie Kurtz at MoveOn.org, was designed to urge the passage of California’s S.B. 323, or the Youth Equality Act. The bill would need two-thirds approval from both houses of state legislature in order to be passed.
When Kurtz caught wind of the bill, the former Boy Scout and activist with the liberal Courage Campaign, said he knew he had to do something to get the legislation passed.
“As a straight ally, I can’t sit idle while the current leaders of the Boy Scouts disgrace this once-proud American institution with their person bigotry,” Kurtz said in a statement.
California state Sen. Ricardo Lara and Equality California introduced S.B. 323 Feb. 19. The bill would remove a state tax-exemption status for Boy Scouts of America and other nonprofit youth groups that exclude members and leaders based on sexual orientation.
State tax exemptions for youth groups are put in place to encourage these organizations to act in the public interest. Organizations that do not respect the values of the state of California, however, should not be given this type of tax-exempt support, Lara’s office said.
Lara said he is in full support of Kurtz and his efforts.
“I am proud of Eddie Kurtz — he epitomizes our democratic ideals. Change agents like him inspire my work in public service and fuel my passion to end all forms of discrimination in our society,” Lara told The Daily Caller. “I commend Eddie and everyone who has signed the petition in support of the CA Youth Equality Act.”
The California Association of Nonprofits opposes the legislation in its current form, calling the act of threatening tax exemption status as a means of fueling change in nonprofits a “slippery slope,” NBC News reported.
“Nonprofits are the embodiments of free speech in our society. When we disagree with nonprofit’s policies, we should vote by moving our donation dollars and our volunteer feet elsewhere,” Kris Lev-Twombly, the organization’s director of public policy, told NBC.
The association also voiced concern over the narrow nature of the proposal. There is no way to estimate the actual impact it could have on California’s 50,000 nonprofit organizations, the association said, as there is little readily available data on various organization’s policies on homosexuality.
The Boy Scouts of America told The Daily Caller the group is “aware of this proposal but do not have anything to add beyond our previous statements,” in which the BSA declared they would not make a decision regarding membership standards until May 2013.
The BSA reaffirmed its policy of excluding gay scout members and leaders in July of 2012 after two years of reviewing it. The committee that reaffirmed the policy consisted of scout executives and volunteers, made their decision based on heavy support from parents of scout members, the Huffington Post reported in July.