SAN FRANCISCO -- A bill aimed at pressuring the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay members by making the organization ineligible for nonprofit tax breaks cleared its first vote Wednesday in the Legislature.
The Senate Governance and Finance Committee voted 5 to 2 to move the bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee for review.
The Youth Equality Act, sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, would deny tax-exempt status to youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation.
That means those groups would have to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues, camp fees and other sources of income, as well as sales taxes on food, beverages and homemade items sold at fundraisers.
If the Appropriations Committee passes the bill, it would require two-thirds approval from the full Senate before it could be sent to the Assembly.
Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith declined to comment on Wednesday's vote. Conservative legal aid groups have said they would sue if the bill gets enacted into law because it penalizes groups based on their beliefs.
The BSA is reviewing its membership policies. Later this month, Scouting's executive officers will present a resolution regarding the policy to be considered in May by the voting members of the National Council.