Lawmakers tussle over resolutions honoring Boy Scouts
A key Assembly committee on Tuesday killed one resolution honoring the Boy Scouts of America and passed another encouraging the organization to lift its ban on gay members.
Officials at the Boy Scouts of America, which has an oath calling for members to be "morally straight," maintain they have the right as a private group to exclude gays from their ranks. That position was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 but has led many state and local governments to deny support for the group.
On Tuesday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee heard two competing resolutions. Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) pushed ACR 94, which would honor the history and contributions of the Boy Scouts on the group's 102nd anniversary. But, according to a 16-page committee analysis of the measure, the Legislature has rejected at least half a dozen similar resolutions over the last decade because their authors failed to mention the organization's "anachronistic discriminatory policies" and urge change.
For that reason, the committee killed Morrell's measure on a party-line vote, 3-7, with Republicans supporting the resolution and Democrats opposing it.
The panel passed a separate measure by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the committee, that honors the Boy Scouts while urging the group "to accept for membership and leadership positions all qualified boys and men, without discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or religious belief."
In an interview, Morrell said he didn't want to politicize the Boy Scouts.
"My goal was simple: recognizing the great accomplishments and traditions of the millions of youths who have served their communities for the past 102 years," he said. "I didn’t want to insert something in there telling them how to run their organization."
Democrats, he said, are "imposing their will on a private, nonprofit organization and they wanted to make it a political statement."
Feuer's resolution says the Boy Scouts' ban on gays is contrary to the state's policy on discrimination.
--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts America Pack 862 from Torrance salute at Los Angeles National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2010. Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times.