A bill introduced by California Senator Ricardo Lara would take away certain nonprofit tax benefits away from certain youth groups that ban gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from becoming members. The move is largely seen as a way to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay members.
The Youth Equality Act is the first state legislation in the country linking a nonprofit’s tax-exempt status to its stance on gay rights. Having cleared a Senate and Finance Committee vote yesterday, the bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for review. It needs a two-thirds vote from both houses of the California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature to become law.
If passed, certain youth non-profit groups would need to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership fees and other sources of income. In addition, they’d need to pay sales taxes on food and beverages sold at fundraisers. Is the bill constitutional? Should the tax code be used to put an end to certain forms of discrimination?
Matthew McReynolds, staff attorney at the Pacific Justice Institute
Jenny Pizer, Senior Counsel and Director of the Law and Policy Project at LAMBDA Legal