Governor Bob McDonnell plans to announce a new campaign Friday that aims to adopt 1,000 Virginia children out of foster care, but equality groups around the state are calling foul on the new initiative. legislative actions signed by Gov. McDonnell allow VA adoption agencies to discriminate who they adopt to, which equality groups believe disproportionately target LGBT families.
“We agree with Governor McDonnell,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia, one of the groups questioning McDonnell’s new initiative. “However his administration’s actions have continually put the special interests of certain agencies ahead of the best interests of all children in need of a loving family in Virginia.”
McDonnell has released a video online to support the campaign. “Every child deserves the security and love that a family provides,” said McDonnell in the video. “We all need ongoing love and support.”
“I would say this is a joke, but nobody is laughing,” said Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy for Family Equality Council. Hecht-McGowan noted that in February of last year, Gov. McDonnell signed new adoption rules into law that included a “conscious clause” which allow private adoption agencies to discriminate who they adopt to based on religious beliefs. “For the Governor to launch this campaign little more than a year after locking thousands of doors to Virginia’s foster youth is outlandish.”
Conservative groups that supported the legislation said it stopped the state from forcing agencies to violate their religious principles, while opponents of the measure say the law not only limits the number of children being adopted, it also specifically targets same-sex couples.
“We just think it’s ironic that the Governor is doing this especially after excluding gay and lesbian families with the “Conscience Clause” legislation.” said Kevin Clay, EV’s Communications Manager. Since the video’s release, Equality Virginia and the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union have asked for a reversal of McDonnell’s adoption laws.