Wednesday, February 27, 2013
CA law on tax-exempt status of BSA views Scouting as almost like a public accomodation
Cheryl Wetzstein has an article in the Washington Times today about the California “Youth Equality Act” which would strip the Boy Scouts of state tax-exempt status if they don’t lift the “military style” (before DADT repeal) ban on gays (or discriminate in any area). The link is (website url) here.
States do allow churches or clearly faith-based denominations tax-exemption regardless of discriminatory practices, but some states look at organizations like the BSA as quasi-public accommodations. As covered before the Supreme Court upheld their right to their own rules as a private organization, but no state has to do business with them.
Yet, some people claim that “religious freedom” is being traded off against “behavioral” freedom. The intellectually easy way to deal with all this is immutability, and that becomes a cop-out.
The BSA claims to develop character in its membership, and desired traits include physical preparedness, self-reliance, and ability to help others. That’s all fine. But there is always an issue when a particular member does not (whether by choice, genetics, circumstance, or some combination of these) meet all of their ideals. In a loose way, the BSA (as did the military) saw same-sex attraction as a distraction from men working together cohesively in situations of forced intimacy, and as a resistance to sharing the emotional risks of complementarity, which again they see as a diversion on others. Times have changed. People are learning that complementarity is partly a matter of polarity, beyond gender. And social cohesion is not disrupted so easily as people had thought (as we learned from DADT). There’s a paradox: if people’s ability to do the “right thing” is unduly influenced by the belief that others must do the same (conformity), that’s not so good for character either. So respecting diversity ought to be good for character.
There seems to be a common denominator to all this: any time someone benefits from sacrifices and emotional consideration from others in a peer group (like the BSA), that same person ought to learn to pass on the same flexibility to others that was done for him. That’s a hard concept to articulate in the BSA environment, but the military is already having to set the first example.
The BSA is supposed to vote on lifting its nationwide ban in May, 2013.