Archive for the ‘taxes’ Category

I had a 1700-word post all ready to go, and then WordPress decided to delete it. Sigh. Here’s my attempted reconstruction of this highly informative topic:

Federal research grants are important. They provide money for a huge range of scientific research that otherwise would not be done. We, as a society, have decided that they are good, though both the left and right and everyone in between may disagree about specific programs.

Because they are public, certain laws and regulations exist whereby the public gets to know what their tax money is going to. And, there exist many website that will let you search them. Here’s one that I have found useful because it links to the search forms for what looks like all federal research funding agencies.

What information is shown is somewhat variable, but in general, you will find: The funding agency, the PI (principle investigator), the PI’s institution, Co-Is (co-investigators), the date the funding starts, the date the funding ends, the amount of funding, and an abstract that describes the research that was provided within the proposal. You won’t find the actual proposal because it contains proprietary information — not only sometimes classified information, but also the ideas and methodology behind the proposal (so the team doesn’t get “scooped”), and even the layout and style of the proposal itself (trust me, there are many ways to write a proposal, and some of them are very effective, while others are very ineffective).

The problem with this information is that to a non-expert, and without any of the broader context of the many pages explaining what the proposal may do and the implications for it beyond the immediate research, the proposal easily looks like a waste of money to the average person. And, despite a tiny fraction of the federal budget going to research grants, various bloggers, reporters, and even congresspersons will often pull up a random title and claim that it’s an amazing example of government waste.

Such seems to have been the case with a Free Beacon article titled, “Feds Spent $532,000 Studying Gay Hookup Apps” with the subtitle, “NIH project studied ‘arousal’ of gay men when using Grindr.” The image is of two men, ostensibly gay, laying on each other and smiling.

The World Net Daily subtitle is the same, but they slightly modified the title: “Feds Spent $432,000 Studying ‘Gay’-Hookup Apps.” See, they added a hyphen and put “gay” in “quotes” because “gay” is scary and fake and a choice, because it’s WND.

There are three distinct problems here, and I don’t know if there’s a good solution to any of them: (1) There is no context, making it easy to complain; (2) titles of proposals are often whimsical; and (3) people don’t realize that less than half of the money goes to the actual researcher(s).

The first issue is that when we write grant proposals, we write them at a level where someone in our field or closely related field can understand them. When I write a crater-related proposal, I try to generalize the abstract to explain to a general person familiar with planetary geology what I plan to do and why. I then spend several pages within the proposal giving background information so that someone who models the interiors of planets would be able to understand why I want to do an observational study of impact craters.

I don’t write my abstract so that someone who has a 9-5 job working for a law firm, or working retail, or who works in Congress, would understand it. That would simply require “dumbing it down” too much. I don’t mean to imply that those people are dumb; rather, we have a very limited amount of space to explain why we want to do the research, how we’re going to do it, the broader implications, the proposal team, the management structure, and justify the budget. If we also had to write it at a level that anyone could understand it, we’d never be able to get into details.

Therefore, what makes it into the abstract that would be made public should I win the grant will rarely make sense to a general person just picking it up randomly.

Similarly, we often write titles to try to stand out to the review panels. Something fun and whimsical, for example, to make someone smile. For example, one might entitle a proposal, “Studying Martian ‘Holes in One.'”

A congressional staffer or random blogger may pick that up thinking, “Wow, why is NASA funding something about golf on Mars?” In reality, my proposal is about studying meter- and decameter scale craters in a broad statistical study to try to understand where they are most common, how dense they are, and therefore what the likelihood is that a a future spacecraft may inadvertently land in one. This happened with the MER Opportunity when it landed on Mars eleven years ago. It turned out to be good because the crater’s walls let Opportunity see a lot of otherwise buried layers, and it was able to get out of the crater. But if the crater were a little steeper, or a little smaller, then the rover would not have been able to escape or it may have fallen over and not have been able to righten itself.

Now it seems much more important: You send a half-$billion craft to Mars, you’re going to be more willing to fund a $300k study into impact crater hazards for landing, right? But, a layperson may never get past the title and flag it for government waste.

And that leads into the third issue: We don’t get that money. On a proposal I wrote several years ago, just as an example, the total budget for the three-year proposal was $328k. Salary was $127k, a little over one-third of the total amount. That was my salary as a graduate student half-time for 1 year, and postdoc half-time for 2 years, and my then-advsior for 1 month each year. What did the other money go to? The vast majority was institutional overhead, which covers administration staff salary, budget office salary, building rent, lights, computer support, custodial staff, etc. Then there were benefits, like health insurance, life insurance, and retirement. There was also money in there for a new computer and software licenses so I could do the work. About $10k was travel to conferences and another $6k was publication costs: After all, I could do the most ground-breaking study ever, but if I never told anyone about it, then what’s the point?

So, while a study may look like it costs a lot, and overhead rates vary considerably across different institutions (and are generally higher at private companies versus public universities), a very very general rule-of-thumb is to divide the total amount by 3, and that’s salary.

That brings us back to the article in question. Now that you have all that in mind, let’s look at it. Using the NIH (National Institutes of Health) search form, here’s the grant, awarded to Dr. Karolynn Siegel, entitled, “Use of Smartphones Applications for Partnering Among MSM.” MSM is “men who have sex with men” (since many men are unwilling to identify as bi or gay but do have sex with other men).

While Free Beacon doesn’t seem to have much of a spin, and it does not allow comments so I can’t quite tell which end of the political spectrum it’s on, WND clearly does have an agenda: This study is a waste because who cares about gays (or “gays”) hooking up? What benefit could there possibly be!?

Well, take a moment and think more broadly about it from both a social and medical standpoint: Smartphones and GPS-enabled devices have drastically changed how we interact, so from a social standpoint we need research to better understand that phenomenon. From a health standpoint, it’s dramatically increased the ease of casual sex, especially among gay men where there is still a stigma of trolling the bars or streets for a partner. Heterosexuals have their own app (Tinder), and so the findings from a study of gay males hooking up could have implications for straight men and women, too. And, casual sex will increase the risk of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). So, from a public health standpoint, understanding a strong new vector for how diseases spread is the first step to trying to determine ways to minimize that risk. Both for straight and gay persons.

If the blogger or WND had bothered to read the abstract on the NIH site, they would have found that (emphasis mine):

The study aims are: 1. Examine how and why smartphone applications are used for sexual partnering, the situations and locations in which they are used, in order to gain insights into how these use patterns might contribute to sexual risk behaviors. 2. Investigate the process by which MSM use smartphone applications to find sexual partners (i.e., who they look for, how they present themselves, how they communicate, extent of safer sex negotiation,and disclosure) to gain insights into how this process may contribute to sexual risk behaviors. 3. Investigate the sexual and emotional states (e.g., more/less urgency, arousal, impulsivity) that MSM experience when seeking or meeting sexual partners using smartphone applications and gain insights into how these states may contribute to sexual risk behaviors. 4. Examine the perceived need and acceptability of a smartphone delivered intervention and assess what MSM perceive as needed components for a smartphone-based sexual risk reduction intervention.

It also contains a public health relevance statement (likely unique to the NIH, since I don’t have to do that for NASA).

Meanwhile, the cost – $432k – may seem high. But, divide by three, and we’re down to around $150k salary. For a medical researcher, working for two years, at maybe half or a third of their time on this particular grant, that doesn’t seem very high anymore. Especially if most of it is given to graduate students who will be conducting the actual interviews with the 60 MSM in the study and Dr. Siegel is there for a month a year to supervise and then more at the end to crunch the data. In medical studies, there’s also money that is sometimes paid out to participants as compensation (I have no idea if that’s the case in this study, but I know it happens in others).

And so, we went from a sensationalist headline that clearly is meant to drum up a specific reaction (government waste! who cares about gays!?) but that’s because it leaves out any form of context as to the broader implications of this kind of study and why it’s being done. It also completely ignores that the amount of money in the federal budget for government-funded scientific research is somewhere around 3.4%. (FY2015 budget is around $3.97T, but science is $135B, and just under half of that is defense, leaving 1.8% for non-defense.)

And, World Net Daily got that reaction. In the 22 hours the article on their site has been posted, they have gotten 42 comments. They broadly fit into saying that President Obama is gay (which is another odd conspiracy they’ve been floating for years, and remember that being gay on WND is bad), that this is government waste of tax money, and that the study is stupid because it’s about The Gays.

Ignoring the first, some examples of the second are:

    • dan690: “The government says there is no room in the budget for cuts. Here is an excellent example of where to cut and there are thousands more.”
    • Tomas Cruz: “And they wonder why we reject every call for more taxes for this or that because it ends up with this nonsense.”
    • James Frost: “What the hell is going on with our officials? They spend our money on conducting such stupid research. But what`s the use? They`d better spend money on veterans, poor families, security measures. This gays have too much public attention!”

And examples of the third are:

    • Sharknado: “A government of perverts…just great…thanks a lot.”
    • ThoLawn: “What was the purpose to spend (waste indeed) half of million dollars to interview all that gays? What they’re going to do with that “research” results? Would it help to solve any problems? What a stupidity…”
    • HardCorePress: “Talk about in your face government sponsored hommoman wanna pump a guys *** pervertedness. This type of blatant sin has been seen by God and God will send his wrath upon this country. May it be nuclear fire to cleanse the cancerous mass of homosexuality (the pinnacle of debauchery and Obamanibale hedonism).”

Background: Ken Ham runs the Answers in Genesis ministry. He and his ministry preach young-Earth creationism. They are therefore incredibly conservative, religiously. They operate the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

And that’s fine. They have a private museum, built with private funds, and they are a private entity. They can preach whatever they want. They can even require employees to have a religious affiliation and religious beliefs. Private. Simple.

Then, they decided they want to build a theme park about Noah’s Ark. And, they applied to the state of Kentucky’s tourism board to waive around $16M in taxes once it’s operational because they’ll bring in tourism money to the area. Now we get more complicated.

To get this money, they cannot enforce religion on their employees. That’s because they are now getting state rebates, therefore the state is effectively helping them, and therefore they must abide by state laws for the public money. Since the government cannot enforce a religion on someone, the entire project must abide by those rules.

AiG was told about this. They ostensibly agreed to it. Otherwise they couldn’t get the money. And we all knew that AiG wouldn’t be able to do it, and we were watching.

And, of course, AiG didn’t disappoint. There was a job posted on the AiG site for the Arc Encounter that required AiG’s standard: You had to be Christian, you had to submit a statement of faith or belief in their version of young-Earth creationism, etc. Clearly violating the rules. And, people brought it to the attention of Kentucky’s Tourism Board, as WND reported on October 9, 2014: “Noah’s Ark Theme Park Warned Over Hiring Practices.” The subtitle is, “‘We expect all of the companies that get tax incentives to obey the law.'”

The way AiG tried to skirt the rules was by saying that all people working for Ark Encounter were employees of AiG, even though Ark Encounter was not part of AiG … somehow.

And, if AiG had followed what top-commenter “The Guest” wrote, they’d’ve been fine: “Time for real Christians to say, “No thank you. God doesn’t need your help. You can take your 501c3 tax status (shackles) and throw it in the garbage where it belongs.” No one owns God, and no one can take Him and His word away from us. In the rest of the world they discriminate against Christians by prison, torture and beheadings. Here they do it by using the laws (which they make) and public pressure (discrimination).”

While I disagree with that last sentence, the overall idea is one I agree with: If you don’t want to abide by the non-religious-discrimination laws that are required when receiving any public money, then don’t take the money (tax waivers). Plain and simple. And “hmolsen” had a similar comment to “The Guest”: “What’s more important to the owners of this theme park? Their faith or their tax credits? Tell the authorities to take the tax credits and stick them where the sun won’t shine.”

I also like “Lowe Webber”‘s response to “The Guest”: “I agree on the tax statement you have made, but of course they don’t deserve it in the first place. I am certain God can fund his own projects.”

Then, in mid-December, Kentucky basically told AiG that they blew it. WND’s Bob Unruh got the easy story on December 11, 2014: “Kentucky Goes ‘ACLU’ on Noah’s Ark.” Right Wing Watch (among others) posted about this, and they headlined it as, “Ken Ham Demands Taxpayers Pay for ‘One of the Greatest Evangelist Outreaches of Our Day.'” Kinda sounds different when you put it that way, and a little less legally defensible.

I’m going to quote extensively now from the WND story:

A Christian organization building a replica of Noah’s Ark has announced possible legal action against Kentucky after state officials demanded it give up certain religious rights in order to participate in a tax-incentive program for organizations that attract tourists to the state.

Answers in Genesis, which is building the life-size version of Noah’s Ark – 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and three stories high – announced Thursday it was informed by the state that it could participate in the tourism program on two conditions.

The organization is required to “waive its right to include a religious preference in hiring” and “affirm that it will tolerate no ‘proselytizing’ at the theme park.”

Not possible, AiG responded, on billboard messages and elsewhere.

AiG said Kentucky officials bowed to pressure from secularist groups when it denied the Ark Encounter theme park an opportunity to participate in a popular tax rebate incentive program offered by the state’s tourism office.”

The restrictions demanded by the state are “unlawful,” AiG asserted.

There are several issues here to point out. Well, two. First, the law is very clear, in place because of of the First Amendment: Government must stay out of religion, therefore government money cannot be used for religion which means that if you’re getting the money, you can’t discriminate on the basis of religion. That’s in direct contradiction to the last sentence in the above quote.

Second, while I know that atheist / separation of church and state organizations brought this to Kentucky’s Tourism Board’s attention, the “pressure” (if there was any) was to enforce their own rules and the law. This wasn’t a capricious decision. AiG has to follow the rules that everyone else does.

And yet, somehow, Ken Ham is playing the victim card: “Moreover, the government cannot show hostility toward religion or discriminate against persons or organizations who express religious viewpoints.”

Then, there was this: “We have been working on this project with Kentucky for more than two years, so this just-received denial announcement is as disappointing as it is costly for our ministry without the expected rebate,” he said. “Our construction has already begun at the Williamstown, Kentucky, site, and it must proceed. We are fully prepared to defend our fundamental rights in court if necessary, as this issue is of huge importance, not only to us, but to every religious organization.”

One wonders (I do, anyway), why they need this for construction purposes? The money (tax waivers) only come after the park opens and they take money. They get to keep some of the state tax that is charged on purchases, like entry. That’s how this works. So how were they going to build it to begin with? This development doesn’t change anything. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps they had taken out loans and needed to repay them by a certain time and they won’t be able to do that without the tax waivers. Maybe.

Oh, and I should add that when the tourism board announced this, the Republican governor came out and stated that he fully supported the board’s decision.

The story has 538 comments, the most recent being posted a month ago so that’s not going to change. The next-to-last poster, “LDScowboy”, kinda echoes my sentiment: “Oh poor Ken Ham is crying religious persecution because he can’t have his millions of dollars of tax payer subsidies for his religious theme park. The man needs to grow up. Disneyland and other similar theme parks pay taxes. So should he and his ridiculous theme park.”

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately since this post is already over 1200 words, the top comments are run-of-the-mill WND. Many of them refer to an almighty god who shall not be mocked. Which raises an interesting question, now that I know that I have at least one semi-regular reader who is a proud Christian and self-described/titled Tea Partier: Isn’t demanding that the state help pay for your religious theme park mocking God in itself? Why does he need state support for his religious endeavor? Why should he get state support for his religious endeavor? How is it mocking God by rescinding tax waivers when Ham refuses to comply with the law, which (assuming he agreed originally in order to get the offer originally) means he bore false witness by lying or being misleading to originally get the money?

Edited to Add (January 21, 2015): I should’ve waited a day before posting this, apparently. The Friendly Atheist has a post that explains that Ken Ham apparently has lied about this Ark Encounter before, not just in what I wrote above, but in the projected attendance of the park. He had to do studies to show how many people they expect per year to attend in order to qualify for the tax waivers. Those numbers are in the 100s of thousands. And yet, publicly, he has stated he expects 1.6-2.0 million people per year. As Hemant points out, Ham usually has issues with shrinking numbers, but here he’s clearly inflated them.

Edited to Add (February 3, 2015): Aaaaannnndddddddd … Ken Ham is suing Kentucky to get the money. Which, again, wouldn’t have any impact on funds now, just potentially on other loans due to tax offsets after the park opens.

Edited to Add (February 6, 2015): Hemant at The Friendly Atheist blog has more on Ken Ham’s whining and trying to spin this into religious oppression.

I chose my words carefully for the title of this post, specifically the “Chooses” part. At issue is the law that churches cannot engage in political speech. Churches, since 1954, for purposes of the tax code so that they are not taxed (which is apparently constitutional and ruled on by the Supreme Court in 1970 — see this page), are 503(c)3 organizations. Meaning that, as I said, they are not taxed. But a restriction on 503(c)3 groups is that they cannot engage in political advocacy and lobbying.

Which seems to make sense to me. If you want to keep the church separate from the government such that the government won’t tax you, then the church shouldn’t have influence over the government, including telling its parishioners who they should or should not vote for.

And, that’s the law.

But, the IRS, for years if not decades (which I realize are the same thing, but it’s a common phrase), has ignored this. They have overlooked the blatant, deliberate, and even well-advertised politicking that churches do. And some might argue that ignoring the law in this case is breaking the law.

In fact, the well-advertised and -organized “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” this year had an estimated 1800 pastors around the country defying the IRS and deliberately endorsing political candidates. From RationalWiki:

Pulpit Freedom Sunday — which is scheduled for the last Sunday of September/first Sunday in October — is the day when right wing fundy batshit crazy American pastors decide to flout their churches’ tax-exempt status by making political speeches during their Sunday services, despite the fact that the Bible repeatedly commands Christians to obey secular law. The first Pulpit Freedom Sunday occurred on 28 September 2008, when it looked more and more likely that One Of Those People was about to win the presidency.

The actual goal of this was to have the IRS revoke their tax-exempt status so that they could sue the IRS/government with the gaol of the Supreme Court saying it was an infringement on the churchs’ freedom of speech to not be allowed to speak about politics.

And yet, the IRS has remained silent. Until they were sued by the Freedom from Religion Foundation for not enforcing their own rules and the law. The IRS reached a settlement with the FFRF earlier in 2014 where they agreed to enforce the law. And WND had the Sadz:

Much of the content is fear-mongering and allegations of Christian Persecution (see the third headline, for example). Some of it is clearly not knowing the law (fourth headline). While others (fifth, sixth headlines) clearly demonstrate that WND knows it’s against the law for pastors to do this. Meanwhile, Bob’s “clandestine” word in the second headline is ridiculous, because this is not secretive on the part of the IRS, as Bob himself has been crowing for years about churches openly flouting the law.

All told, about 1200 comments were written to these six posts. And, they are similar to the headlines: Showing their true hypocrisy of claiming that what the pastors are doing is perfectly legal, while at the same time crowing about how they should preach politics because it is illegal.

I saw this story on the Friendly Atheist blog and I knew that a World Net Daily notice on it could not be far off. WND did not disappoint, and on November 29, they came out with, “Ministers’ Tax Exemption Under Fire.” Let’s contrast that with the Friendly Atheist’s headline of, “Major FFRF [Freedom from Religion Foundation] Legal Victory Eliminates Tax-Free Housing for Pastors.”

I highly recommend reading the Friendly Atheist article on the subject for background. If you can’t be bothered, I’ll try to be brief: The IRS allows ministers (in what is known as the “parish exemption”) to deduct the cost of rent for their church-owned houses from their taxable income. In other words, they get free rent. The DOJ (Department of Justice) tried to argue that FFRF’s own co-presidents “were eligible for the tax breaks… because atheism, they said, was a religion.”

The ruling by Judge Barbara A. Crabb is quite surprising given today’s political climate in the United States. She even laughed off the DOJ’s argument about FFRF being a ministry: “Although defendants devote a substantial amount of their briefs to this argument, it is difficult to take it seriously. Under no remotely plausible interpretation of § 107 could plaintiffs Gaylor and Barker qualify as “ministers of the gospel.””

The WND article is another 3-paragraph excerpt of a real news source, in this case the Baptist Press. I was actually surprised that this didn’t get more vitriol. In the past 17 days, it has received ZERO votes and only 14 comments. And none of them are particularly humorous or worth quoting. But, since this post is short, perhaps the highest-rated one, by “Tosheba,” with 9 up and 1 down vote: “Liberal DemocRATS only recognize The United States Constitution when it serves their grotesque political agenda. In all other cases, they ignore, eviscerate, and violate.”

I guess when you put it that way, WND’s position seems stupid. Well, it probably would seem stupid to most people, but I like the way I put it.

This is a story snippet from NBC News that WND has titled, “IRS to Recognize ‘Gay’ Marriages Across U.S.” Yup, there’s that nice “scare quotes” around The “Gay” so that even their grammar makes it clear they hate The Gay.

The subject of the article is really summarized by that headline, and this week has seen a string of wins for homosexual equality: Wal*Mart (nation’s largest retailer) extending benefits to same-sex couples, announcement that Justice Ginsburg becoming the first Supreme Court Justice to officiate over a same-sex wedding, New Mexico county clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and this: The IRS announcing that, for purposes of filing taxes, same-sex couples who were legally married can file jointly as “Married” regardless of whether or not they live in a state that recognizes that union.

I’m fairly sure that this is in direct response to the Supreme Court striking down major parts of the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) several months ago. DOMA made it so that the federal government could not recognize any same-sex marriage regardless of its legality to any state. The striking means that they now have to. Ergo, makes sense that the IRS, a branch of the US federal government that now has to recognize same-sex marriages, will – gasp! – recognize same-sex marriages for tax-filing purposes.

WND commenters are none-too-pleased.

“stlouisix” has an interesting li’l non sequitur rant:

Flouting the just laws of States who recognize the importance of The Declaration of Independence’s premium on obedience to the “laws of nature and of nature’s God” for the sake of the common good, READ America’s survival, is par for the course for a diabolic Administration headed by a disciple of the devil who wants company in hell!

People of faith and right reason owe Obama and his IRS Gestapo nothing in that regard, per their constitutional freedom of religion rights to oppose that which the moral teaching of their faith summarily condemns!

Here are the priorities for the Obamunists: 1) baby killing from conception to post birth given Obama’s non support of a Born Alive Infant Protection Act as a dead baby promised to his Planned Barrenhood constituency must be a dead baby delivered, 2) the acceptance of sexual perversion as normal, the invariant teaching of the natural law against this moral atrocity, which, per Genesis 18 and 19, is a grave sin crying out to Heaven for vengeance, be damned, and 3) the destruction of our proven efficient American energy system along with the millions of jobs it supports via the lies of the Gore Green Goblins that have been long since abandoned by sane countries not having a death wish for their economies – all under force of unconstitutional unjust law that is owed no obedience whatsoever!

He has the second-highest-rated comment right now with 6 up and 1 down vote. He earned a comment from “richardwayne” who got 1 up and 1 down vote for his trouble: “What do your own personal religious beliefs have to do with the equal civil rights of people who think differently? The 4000 year old Jewish creation myths in Genesis has nothing to do with it.”

Our friend the “UnapologeticConservative” responded even to that (no votes yet) with: “Why do I care what you think? Why would I respect your rights? You mean nothing to me, so I am going to take everything from you. That will make me feel good, therefore it is right. When I look at you, I just see Soylent Green, waiting to be processed.”

Another day, another example of Good Ol’ Chrisian Love™.

A Washington Times article is linked that WND has headlined, “Little League Baseball, Boy Scouts to be Taxed?” The article refers to Senate Bill 323 in the California legislature (already through the Assembly committee). The first paragraph summarizes why it will set off the World Net Daily readership:

A California bill that could strip tax-exempt status from Little League, the Boy Scouts of America and other “discriminatory” nonprofit youth-serving groups could come up for a final vote this week.

Obviously I have a strong opinion about this: If you discriminate, you should not get tax breaks – effectively meaning that the public at large supports you through higher taxes that they have to pay to make up for the revenue you don’t generate for the state. I do not want to subsidize groups that discriminate.

“kingdad” is tied for the top post with 5 up and 0 down at the moment with this fun diatribe: “The Californicate Legislature is full of criminals, deviants, perverts and Liberal Democrats. Oops I reiterated on that last one. The USSC clearly stated that the BSA did not discriminate and had a right to be selective in their membership just as every other group does. But the Californicaters don’t seem to understand the Law just like the Ch-mp In Charge in the WH.”

As I said, wasn’t that fun? No, the “USSC” (United States Supreme Court) did NOT say that the Boy Scouts don’t discriminate, they said that they did discriminate but that as a private group, they’re allowed. This is not a subtle misunderstanding, “kingdad.” And, to then follow this out, as a private group, I don’t think they should be getting public support through not paying taxes and not paying for many facilities they use. And yes, I would be saying this regardless of their discrimination policies.

Another top-rated tie post is from “StampOutLiberalism” (fun name!) who wrote, “If this passes, aren’t the legislators discriminating against the BSA and the Little League? Whatever happened to the right of free association.” No, they would NOT be discriminating, they would be un-discriminating against every other private group. And you can freely associate with whomever you want. And when you use a meeting space that normally charges, pay for it!

I really don’t understand why this is a hard concept. Aren’t the right-wingers usually complaining that it’s the liberals who want stuff for free? Isn’t this the BSA getting stuff for free that others can’t?

Edited to Add (September 20, 2013): Apparently, the bill is on hold until next year while the sponsor seeks more support.