UPDATE 2/9/2012: The bill passed the Senate 22-18 and will need Governor Bob McDonnell’s signature to become law.
Richmond-based LGBT advocacy group Equality Virginia has issued a statement urging the Virginia Senate to reject SB349, which authorizes private adoption agencies to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeffrey McWaters, R-Virginia Beach, came in response to December’s ruling by the Virginia Board of Social Services, which allowed for the same discrimination codified by SB349. The House of Delegates passed the House version of the bill 71-28 on Tuesday. A bill to ban such discrimination, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Arlington, was killed in committee at the end of January.
“This is not a freedom of religion issue because adoption is a public act,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish in an official statement. “Furthermore, agencies licensed to facilitate adoptions and foster care are functioning as agencies of the state. This means your tax dollars would be used to discriminate against you.”
Worse, said Parrish, “SB 349 would allow adoption and foster care agencies based on their religious or moral beliefs to place GLBT youth in harmful homes. These youth could be required to stop attending GLBT support groups or, even worse, enrolled into ‘ex-gay’ reparative or conversion therapy.”
Sen. Ebbin also condemned the legislation. “When placing a child in a permanent home, the only factor we should take into account is what is best for the child,” Ebbin told ARLNow.com.
After review, the Senate is expected to vote on SB349 this week. “The state’s main focus should be acting in the best interests of children when placing them into loving and permanent homes,” said Parrish, “and this bill does nothing more than look out for the best interests of a few discriminatory agencies.”