Let's support youth sports programs, not tax them to death

Sometimes good intentions, when acted upon, may have unforeseen bad consequences. We've all heard this proverb before, but it couldn't be truer for Senate Bill 323 which is making its way through the Legislature right now.Senate Bill 323 attempts to stop discrimination against gender identity and sexual orientation by using the coercive power of government to impose tax penalties on youth groups and supporting public and private educational institutions to suppress differing opinions. That means organizations such as Pop Warner Football, California Youth Soccer Association, and even some East L.A. boxing gyms supported by the Catholic Church, may have problems raising money. There's a lot wrong with that. Many inner-city church programs mentor troubled youth by providing after-school sports and skills programs that keep them out of trouble and prepare them for the future. Without the existing state tax exemption, churches and other nonprofits will have a difficult time funding these programs. Do we want to make it more difficult for these programs to help our at-risk children? Nonprofit organizations, even the ones we disagree with, should be allowed to exist representing wide varieties of opinion. The proper place to take action against discrimination is through the court system, not through making it harder for single fathers and mothers to find a place where their kids are surrounded by positive influences. It's a shame the ruling party is using the government tax authority to force their ideas and moral values on others while suppressing the opinions of those with whom they disagree. How does that help our kids? Playing organized sports like soccer or football is supposed to teach teamwork and to be fun, but by threatening to take away tax-exempt status from select charitable organizations, the ruling party is forcing its will on these organizations to choose between raising funds and protecting children. If you don't agree with a nonprofit group's beliefs or practices, you have a choice; don't volunteer and don't donate to their cause. Or, if you want to participate in the group's activities, respect their beliefs. Using the power of the government to impose tax penalties upon groups of which the majority party disagrees is a very slippery slope. More importantly, we have to remember that not every parent or child has the same resources. If we destroy some of these programs by taking away valuable resources, we're ultimately putting a roadblock in the way of children who don't have anywhere else to turn, except for these programs. There is a much better approach to ending discrimination, and it doesn't involve discriminating against children who need these programs. Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) serves as the Senate Republican Leader and represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter @bobhuff99.

********** Published: Sept. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 22