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Virginia House Passes Anti-Gay ‘Conscience Clause’ Adoption Bill

Virginia House Passes Anti-Gay ‘Conscience Clause’ Adoption Bill

 

Lawmakers in Virginia are pushing through a bill that will allow religious institutions contracting with the state to turn away prospective foster and adoptive parents on grounds of their sexual orientation or other personal characteristics.

Via the AP:

The state House voted 71-28 to pass the legislation Friday. Earlier in the day, a Senate committee endorsed its version of the Republican-backed measure on an 8-7 party-line vote. Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected to sign the bill.

The measure, sponsored by Delegate Todd Gilbert and Senator Jeffrey McWaters, both Republicans, allows religious agencies to discriminate based on their ethos and is being billed as a measure to protect religious freedoms.  Others have called out the legislation as, simply, anti-gay discrimination.

Via On Top Magazine:

“I applaud my colleagues for embracing the continued protection of religious liberties in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Gilbert said in a statement. “When signed into law by Governor McDonnell, this measure will chisel into law the principle that people of faith can adhere to their convictions, without fear of reprisal from those who would discriminate against their religious beliefs regarding how we should raise our children.”

Democratic Senator Mark R. Herring said that the bill would allow any agency to discriminate against prospective foster or adoptive gay parents.

“What this bill is designed to do is allow any agency to discriminate based on sexual orientation,” Herring said during the committee hearing.

A vote in the state Senate is expected in the coming days. The legislation looks set to pass and as noted above will be signed by Governor McDonnell.

Virginia only allows married couples to jointly adopt, meaning that there is an existing discriminatory aspect to adoption rules given that same-sex couples cannot marry in the state.

This push to change the law came about after the Virginia Board of Social Services decided to abandon its anti-discrimination rules based on personal characteristics including race and sexual orientation in favor of a blanket anti-discrimination policy.

Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) then introduced legislation designed to fill that gap. His legislation would have served to 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. However, that was rejected in committee.

As mentioned above,  Republican lawmakers then pushed legislation to create a “conscious clause” so that religious organizations can continue to deny placement based on their beliefs and still receive state funds. Specifically, the legislation sanctions the right of state-funded agencies to refuse to approve adoptions and foster care placement to a gay individual or others, based on religious or moral factors. The bill also protects said facilities from damage claims by the persons they discriminate against.

Leslie Cooper of the American Civil Liberties Union has reportedly condemned the bill, saying: “It’s a license for child welfare agencies to make decisions based on their own religious beliefs rather than the child’s needs.”

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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66 comments

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9:30PM PST on Feb 12, 2012

Children need food, shelter, and caring families. It takes a village to raise a child and how marvelous the community is blessed with diversity.....What? Only straight married couples can adopt? Darn village idiot!

4:15PM PST on Feb 12, 2012

Good luck and God bless! Support our gay rights groups such as HRC and your local ones fighting for what's right.

8:57PM PST on Feb 11, 2012

This was a long time coming. So sad that it took so long. Bigotry and racism is ugly in all its forms.

4:08PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

The Pure Imitigated Gall & Audacity of these Bigoted/Opinionated/Classist/Racist/Mysoginistic/Sexually-Perverse/Intolerant/HELL-BOUND supposedly sound-minded & religious people is SICKENING. To purposefully & discriminativily deny Children FAMILIES, because they do Not fit what some describe or depict as a Family is a perversion itself. These Damn Fools would rather see thousands of Children with "NO Family" rather than mind there own damned business & accept the fact that are non-traditional Families that are equally as Loving/Caring/Nurturing/Intellectual/Spiritual/ & inclined to produce POSTIVE out-comes, that could never come about by these CHILDREN, NOT being adopted by anyone!!!!! It is so INCREDIBLY TRAGIC, what Narrow-minded hatred can manifest in some peoples Souls!!!!!!!!!!

11:25PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

Sad for the children... :(

9:56PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

thanks

7:27PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

Tribal values and knowledge were overpowered by ignorance when Europe came over. Indigenous people honored all and had a sacred place in society and ceremony for all....gender blends are within each and every individual, and there is no such separation of 2 genders in the SPIRIT.

6:10PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

So many fertile hetros producing children who end up in the "system". So many loving, caring LGBT couples who want to give an unwanted, abused, neglected, etc, child a chance for a family & home. Denying a child this opportunity should be deemed a crime. Discrimination is discrimination Virginia

3:42PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

Well, I wouldn't say ALL of the south. Virginia is closer to DC than Texas.

12:35PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

What happened to separation of church and state? You want to contract with the state, you cannot discriminate. Period. Agree with Amie K here. This is wrong.

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