Wednesday, January 06, 2016

California Judges Will Still Be Able To Lead Church Boy Scout Troops

January 21, 2016 is the effective date of an amendment adopted last year to the California Code of Judicial Ethics that eliminated previous exceptions to the ban on California judges holding membership in any organization-- other than a religious organization-- that discriminates on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. A previous exception for non-profit youth organizations had allowed judges to continue their activities with the Boy Scouts.  (See prior posting.)

In a little-noticed Oral Advice Summary (full text) posted Nov. 12, 2015, the California Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions opened the door to judges continuing to participate in church-sponsored scout troops that bar gay leaders. The Committee said in part:
The Advisory Committee commentary to canon 2C advises that determining whether an organization practices invidious discrimination depends on such "relevant factors as whether the organization is dedicated to the preservation of religious . . . or other values of legitimate common interest to its members. . . ."
Historically, BSA has prohibited youth and adult membership based on sexual orientation. In January, 2014, BSA adopted a policy that no youth will be denied membership on the basis of sexual orientation. In July, 2015, BSA adopted a policy that BSA employees and non-unit-serving volunteers will not be denied membership on the basis of sexual orientation. The policy also states that chartering organizations, such as those sponsoring local troops, have the right to select adult scout leaders based on the chartering organization’s religious and moral values concerning sexuality.
Given these policies, the requesting judge must determine for himself whether or not his church-sponsored BSA troop excludes adult gay members based on his troop’s commonly-held religious values concerning sexuality....
Yesterday News Now reported on the November Oral Advice.