SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Youth Equality Act (SB 323), designed to bring youth group tax exemptions in line with California’s existing non-discrimination laws, has passed the Senate with a vote of 27-9, making this the first LGBT rights bill to pass with a two-thirds majority in California history.
The bill, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) and sponsored by Equality California continues to gain momentum and has influenced similar legislation across the country.
Last week, a New York senator introduced legislation which would also deny tax exempt status to all youth groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or other defining characteristics.
“While the Boy Scouts of America took a step in the right direction to include LGBT youth, the standing ban on LGBT adults is premised on absurd assumptions and stereotypes that perpetuate homophobia and ignorance,” Lara said. “Equality doesn’t come with an expiration date and we shouldn’t allow discrimination to be subsidized; not in our state, not on our dime.”
Although nonprofits are private organizations, California law prohibits discrimination by the state based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious affiliation. Thus meaning that any state support of discriminatory organizations can be curtailed if organizations are not following the law.
“Teaching discrimination against LGBT people can never be in the public interest, and the time to end it is now,” said John O’Connor, EQCA executive director. “This is a historic milestone in California history - it is the first time one of the state’s legislative chambers has voted in favor of an LGBT piece of legislation with a two-thirds majority.”
SB 323 gets rid of a tax exemption for sales and use taxes, as well as corporate taxes, for youth groups that discriminate.
“I am proud that my colleagues joined me today on the right side of history by voting for the Youth Equality Act,” stated Senator Lara. “The protections in this bill live beyond the transitory actions any group may take now or in the future. The LGBT community must be protected in perpetuity.”
The bill now moves on to the Assembly.
If you missed the presentation of the Youth Equality Act today on the Senate floor, please view the video below.