California state judges have been banned from working with youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts that practice “invidious” discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The Supreme Court of California said it adopted the recommendations of its advisory committee after public comment on the issue.
The policy change removes an exception to the ban for judges to participate with such youth organizations.
“The only remaining exception to the general rule is membership in a religious organization,” Judge Richard D. Fybel, chairman of the committee and a member of the Fourth District Court of Appeals, said in the announcement. “One other exception – belonging to a military organization – was eliminated as well, because the U.S. armed forces no longer restrict military service based on sexual orientation.”
The Boy Scouts declined to respond to WND requests for comment.
In 2012, the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America revised its century-old policy to allow “open and avowed” homosexuals to join its programs. The move was made despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that, as a private organization, it could restrict its memberships.
The compromise didn’t satisfy either side of the debate, allowing openly homosexual scouts while banning openly homosexual leaders.
“Gay”-rights activists demanded more, and many churches that had sponsored troops for years dropped out of the program, sending membership down 6 percent in the first year after the decision.
The judiciary in California, through the media office at the state Supreme Court, also declined to respond to WND requests for comment.
The ban on participation in groups that “discriminate” dates to the mid-1990s, but the exceptions for youth and religious organizations had been maintained until the change.
The Boy Scouts were not identified specifically in the court’s document, because the rule-change pertains to all “youth organizations.” But because of the high profile of its recent fight over homosexuality, the move is seen as a direct ban on participation with the Scouts.
The new ethical guideline reads: “A judge shall not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.”
Previously, the rules said: “This canon does not apply to membership in a religious organization or an official military organization of the United States. So long as membership does not violate Canon 4A, this canon does not bar membership in a nonprofit youth organization.”
The committee changed the text to read: “This canon does not apply to membership in a religious organization.”
California’s highest-profile decision regarding homosexuality was made by a federal judge, Vaughn Walker, who ruled the voter-approved Proposition 8 that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman was unconstitutional, even while visiting “gay” bars and attending social events with his male partner.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, he was quoted in a book about the issue saying, “African American judges hear race discrimination cases all the time, while female judges hear cases charging gender bias. … Why wouldn’t a gay man hear the challenge to Prop 8?”
In commentary offered by the advisory committee to the judges, members said, “The code prohibits such membership by judges to preserve the fairness, impartiality, independence, and honor of the judiciary, to treat all parties equally under the law, and to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”
The committee said that previously, Canon 2C “contained exceptions to this prohibition for membership in religious organizations, membership in an official military organization of the United States and, so long as membership did not violate Canon 4A, membership in a nonprofit youth organization.”
“The exceptions for membership in an official military organization of the United States and nonprofit youth organizations have been eliminated as exceptions to the canon.”
The committee report said an organization is “generally said to discriminate invidiously if it arbitrarily excludes from membership on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender, national origin, ethnicity, or sexual orientation persons who would otherwise be admitted to membership.”
The judges have been given until Jan. 21, 2016, to make sure their statements, activities and participation in organizations comply.
“The proposed rule change was sent out for public comment last year, and the change was supported by the California Judges Association. The amended rule is now consistent with the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct,” the Supreme Court said.
The rules apply to “state judges on and off the bench and for candidates for judicial officer.” The advisory committee recommended no other substantive changes to the rules that address what a judge may say about a case, to whom he may say it and how investigations of misbehavior are handled.
Meanwhile, AP is reporting the beginning of arguments over a lawsuit brought against the Scouts. A boy, 13 at the time, allegedly was sexually abused by an adult volunteer with the organization.
The case is precedent-setting because the plaintiff’s attorney has, according to AP, “won the right to draw from more than 30 years of ‘perversion’ files kept by the Scouts.”