Bills to Allow Second Parent Adoption Head to 2014 GA With Bi-Partisan Support
Two bills hoping to make second parent adoption easier for couples in Virginia, including same-sex couples, are headed to the 2014 General Assembly.
SB 336, sponsored by Senator Janet D. Howell (D-32), states “a person other than the spouse of a parent may adopt a child if the child has only one parent, the adoption would not terminate the parental rights of the parent, and the parent joins in the petition for the purpose of indicating his consent.”
A second bill, expected to have mirrored language, will enter the House via Delegate Yost (R- 12). Yost’s office had not returned phone calls from GayRVA by press time, but EV and an aid for Senator Howell said the republican delegate had pledged his support for the measure. GA members still have time to submit bills and the house version of the bill is excepted soon.
The language of the bill has been a large part of Equality Virginia’s legislative schedule for this session. While EV is holding comments on the bill till next week, one of the legal experts that helped draft the bill, Richmond lawyer and adoption expert Colleen Queen, responded to questions about the bill via email.
“Given the recent US Supreme Court decisions, the incoming Democratic Virginia governance, the polls that show a shift in people’s opinions and the recent changes in other states,” said Quinn. “I think the timing is good to get this started even if it does not pass this year – it gets the attempt rolling.”
Quinn worked with EV and The Family Equality Council‘s Denise Brogan-Kator to get the language of the bill just right. “It’s written such that a person other than a parent of the child may adopt,” said Borgan-Kator. “As long as that child already has only one legal parent – it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight,”
“The purpose of this bill is to provide security and stability for children living in two-parent families already in VA, but are only able to have a legal relationship with one parent,” said Borgan-Kator
It’s possible for a single person, gay or straight, to adopt in the state of VA. But the partner, or unmarried significant other of one parent lacks an avenue to gain parental rights. This bill would create a channel for such a second parent.
Adoption in Virginia for same-sex couples has its own challenges beyond the lack of marriage recognition.
The passage of HB 189, known as the Conscience Clause, in the 2012 GA session, gave state-licensed and state-funded adoption and foster care agencies the right to legally deny services to children and prospective parents based on the groups religious or moral beliefs – for example, if a group disagreed with same-sex couples or didn’t approve of being LGBTQ, they could deny adoption based on this issue alone.
After the bill’s passage, Equality Virginia’s James Parish said “This state-funded discrimination will compound the difficulties in finding loving, permanent homes for the thousands of Virginia children in foster care and awaiting adoption — difficulties that already have resulted in more children in Virginia aging out of foster care than in all but one other state.”
SB 336 and it’s unnumbered House counter part will not alter the process for agencies or affect the conscience clause, but they do give hope to all couples currently with children who are either unable to be married or have chosen not to wed.
Top image by Gaydadswag.com
“We find that the literature on outcomes for children of same-sex parents is marked by scientific consensus that they experience “no differences” compared to children from other parental configurations.”June 30, 2015
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