Eddie Kurtz, a straight former Boy Scout, has started a petition urging the California Legislature to pass Senate Bill 323, which would end tax breaks for youth groups that discriminate against gays, including the Boy Scouts of America.
So far some 9,000 Californians have signed the petition, which is one of many started by former Boy Scouts around the country asking the Boy Scouts of America to end its policy banning gays.
Earlier this week, state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles) sponsored SB 323, dubbed the Youth Equality Act, hoping to give the Boy Scouts a nudge in the right direction by eliminating tax exemptions for groups that openly discriminate against gays.
Currently, organizations that discriminate against youth based on sexual orientation or gender identity still get sales and corporate tax exemptions -- a provision that is intended to encourage acting in the public interest, Lara says.
Here's what Kurtz, who also serves as director of campaigns for Courage Campaign, has to say about that:
I grew up in the Boy Scout tradition. I started out as a Cub Scout, transitioned through Webelos, and ended my Boy Scout journey as a Life Scout, one rank below Eagle. My closest friends were other scouts. Scouting stands for the finest qualities of humanity: self-reliance, creativity, and an appreciation of nature. Most of all, we were taught how to act as responsible, respectful citizens. This is why the Boy Scouts' continued policy of excluding members based on their sexual orientation is so upsetting to me. It flies in the face of the very values that the scouting tradition professes to teach. 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 personal bigotry.
The bill was introduced after the Boy Scouts of America last month put off making any decisions about whether to change its policy and start accepting gays into its organization. The issue over Boy Scouts and gays was pushed back into the spotlight last year after an East Bay teen was denied his Eagle Scout award when troop leaders learned he was gay.
Ryan Andresen, a Moraga resident, had completed all his obligations, including building a tolerance wall at a local school, to earn the top honor a boy scout could receive. His story made national news, and he went on the Ellen Show to tell his story.
Andresen has yet to get his Eagle Scout honor that he rightfully deserves.
If reading all this upsets you, feel free to sign the petition supporting Lara's bill.