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VA Lawmakers Consider Gay Adoption Issue

VA Lawmakers Consider Gay Adoption Issue

 

Should the state continue to fund adoption and foster care agencies that, based on their religion, refuse to place children with same-sex couples even when those couples fulfill all other criteria for providing a viable home?

This is the question that lawmakers in Virginia are now considering after new legislation was recently introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) that would bar Virginia from contracting with or funding agencies that discriminate against eligible prospective foster or adoptive families solely on the basis of personal characteristics including race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, family status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Two other lawmakers have since introduced legislation that would allow a “conscious clause” so that private organizations can continue to deny placement based on their beliefs and still receive funds.

From the Associated Press:

“One major issue is whether charities that receive tax dollars should be able to discriminate,” Ebbin said Friday. “Adoption is a public act that goes through state courts, and no government agent should engage in discrimination.”

[...]

Sen. Jeffrey McWaters and Del. Todd Gilbert have introduced so-called “conscience clause” bills that would reinforce the Department of Social Services regulations and protect private, faith-based child-placement agencies.

The measures would allow private organizations to deny placement if doing so would go against their religious beliefs — including opposition to homosexuality. The measures also would bar the Department of Social Services from denying or revoking a placement agency’s license solely on the grounds that it has refused to allow adoptions or foster placement based on sexual orientation, and would protect agencies from legal action stemming from such decisions.

“We just want to ensure that people can continue to abide by their religious beliefs and continue to provide services consistent with those beliefs,” said Gilbert, R-Woodstock, who said he introduced the legislation on behalf of the Virginia Family Foundation, a conservative Christian group, to protect faith-based agencies.

Ebbin has already said that he believes his legislation will face a tough fight but he believes that it would address a fundamental concern that children should not be denied loving homes based on the sexual orientation of their parents.

This comes as The Virginia Board of Social Services voted December 14, 2011,  to make effective on May 1, 2012, rules that will only ban discrimination in adoption services and youth care based on race, national origin and ethnicity. State equality groups and the state’s chapter of the ACLU have decried this roll-back from previous and more inclusive provisions, saying that it is tantamount to state sanctioned discrimination because it refuses to take the necessary step of protecting a wide number of at-risk youth.

It is estimated that there are more than 1,500 children awaiting adoption in the state.

This is a discussion that is not by any means unique to Virginia. Catholic Charities in Illinois, for instance, closed their doors rather than comply with state anti-discrimination laws. They sued trying to find legal remedy but were told that they had no entitlement to state money and therefore were contractually obliged to abide by state rules per gay-inclusive nondiscrimination. Read more on that here.

Related Reading:

V.A. Board Defies Cuccinelli, Votes for Nondiscrimination

New Jersey Legislators Back Marriage Equality Bill

Library Sued For Blocking Native American & Wiccan Websites

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to nerdcoregirl.

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19 comments

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3:29AM PST on Jan 26, 2012

So, the government is funding religious-based discrimination and this does not violate the First Amendement?

10:57PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Thank you.

7:37PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

The Gov has a 1st Amendment responsibility NOT to establish in law funding that would benefit one religion over another in these privatized adoption organizations.

Gotta luv type-o's

7:32PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Split the baby down the 1st Amendment middle thus keeping one's oath ... "Uphold and defend the constitution of the United States of America"...

The church has a 1st Amendment right to worship as it sees fit and conduct it's internal church activities in whatever manner it likes.

The Gov has a 1st Amendment responsibility to establish in law funding that would benefit one religion over another in these privatized adoption organizations.

If the Church is charging the public for these services (business) , then they must not discriminate either,

3:37PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Fight on Ebbin!

12:13PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Keep fighting! Love conquers hate. I am still in shock that my state has a senetor, Santorum, who recently said children are better off with a father in jail than in a same sex family! Goodnes prevails over stupidity in the end.

11:34AM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Really you call it a conscious clause sounds more like a discrimination claus. Love knows no boundries but small minded people do.

10:31AM PST on Jan 24, 2012

It's really simple - the government should not be able to hand tax dollars to organizations that use those funds in a discriminatory manner, whether discriminating based on race, sex, religion or any other characteristic. That's part of what it means to have a fair government that represents all citizens.

Organizations are free to discriminate, but organizations that do discriminate aren't free to receive tax dollars.

9:18AM PST on Jan 24, 2012

"Should the state continue to fund adoption and foster care agencies that, based on their religion, refuse to place children with same-sex couples even when those couples fulfill all other criteria for providing a viable home?"
No. A parent is a parent, no matter ones "race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, family status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity." Adoption should be based solely on the facts of "can they care for a child,", "can they proved food, shelter, emotional and mental support and an education for a child", "Do they have a criminal record and if so for what and in some cases how long ago" and "can they give a child in a safe environment"
Adoption is there for the welfare of the child, religious convictions on the agencies part should NOT determine who should become a parent and who shouldn't." Nicole B
Yes, I agree, what more can I say other that Nicole B has indeed said it the best.

8:45AM PST on Jan 24, 2012

"No Comment"...

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