The Virginia Board of Social Services this week voted 7–2 to reject additional nondiscrimination rules governing adoption and foster care agencies.
Current law bans discrimination on the grounds of race, national origin and ethnicity. The proposed changes, which have been on hold since 2009, would have widened that to include: sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, disability, political beliefs and family status.
LGBT campaigners were especially disappointed with the board’s decision.
From the Human Rights Campaign:
“Today the State Board of Social Services told the 1,300 children already waiting for a loving, forever home that they’ll have to wait longer,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We will continue to fight for Virginia’s children. We call on the legislature to pass legislation that makes the best interest of the child the sole basis for adoption, not whether someone is gay or whether two caring adults are able to be married.”
“It is a sad day, indeed, when public servants charged with upholding the constitution and serving the best interests of Virginia’s children put those obligations aside because of political pressure or fear,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “We need to change the law so that Virginia’s children in foster care and waiting for adoption are not denied the opportunity to have a loving home and two parents to care for them based on factors, such as the sexual orientation of the prospective parents, which have nothing to do with the children’s best interests. We will take action to assure that no GLBT person or couple with a loving home to offer a child is denied the right to parent simply because of who they are.”
Current law means that only single men and women and married couples can adopt. As such, same-sex couples are unable to raise children with both partners enjoying parental rights.
Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli opposed the changes with McDonnell saying faith-based agencies should not be forced to change their policies.
Ken Cuccinelli also dashed off a memo saying that the state board’s adoption of sexual orientation-inclusive nondiscrimination rules would be in excess of its power because state law gives sexual orientation no protection. A 2009 opinion by a former Republican AG would seem to disagree, notes The Washington Post, but Cuccinelli dismissed that review as flawed.
In topic related news, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer this week signed into law a bill that says adoption and foster care agencies should give preference to married (therefore heterosexual) couples. Read more on that here.