Moral Low Ground

US Government

Virginia Senate Passes Anti-Gay Adoption Bill, Gov. McDonnell Says He Will Sign it

The Virginia state Senate has voted to legalize discrimination against LGBT citizens seeking to adopt children, a measure the state’s Republican governor says he will sign into law.

According to the Associated Press, the Senate voted 22-18 to pass SB 349, which will allow private child placement agencies to reject prospective parents from adopting on the basis of their sexual orientation. The justification for this legalized discrimination is protection of religious freedom of those who are opposed to equality on moral or spiritual grounds. Such agencies would be allowed to discriminate even if they receive state funding.

This may soon be illegal in Virginia.

Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican, says he will sign the bill into law.

All 20 Senate Republicans voted in favor of the measure, with Democrats Charles J. Colgan of Prince William County and Phillip Puckett of Russell County joining them.

Senate Democrats and civil rights groups slammed the vote.

“It’s the first step toward actually outlawing adoption by LGBT people,” Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), the General Assembly’s only openly gay member, said on the Senate floor.

“This is truly troubling legislation that in essence codifies state-supported discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which is not only unconstitutional but also unconscionable as it will deny many parentless children the family placements they so desperately need,” Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, told the AP.

The Child Welfare League of America said the measure would make it more difficult to place the 1,300 or so children waiting to find homes in Virginia.

But Christian fundamentalist groups hailed the vote. Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, which is allied with anti-gay hate groups, called the passage of SB 349  “a tremendous victory for religious liberty and an affirmation of the critical role faith-based organizations play in providing hope and security for thousands of children and families in Virginia.”

“This important legislation does not in any way change current Virginia law regarding who can adopt in Virginia; it simply confirms that faith-based agencies will not be discriminated against by the state simply for acting according to their faith principles,” she said in a statement quoted by the AP.

Virginia has 77 state-licensed private child placement agencies.

Since Republicans gained majority control in Virginia, they have been pushing a radically anti-civil liberties agenda that includes a shocking anti-abortion measure that would require women who wish to terminate pregnancies to submit to extremely invasive transvaginal ultrasounds. A highly contentious voter identification law which would disenfranchise large numbers of seniors and racial minorities and has been slammed by everyone from the NAACP to the AARP has also been passed by the state Senate.


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