Town Hall Comments Closed
Public commenting closed on Tuesday for discussion on policy changes that would add anti-discriminatory language for same-sex couples and other classes into Virginia’s adoption and foster care laws.
While the forums are now closed, comments can still be viewed on the site here. Support appeared to lean towards the addition of protections. Below are comments from both sides.
“If two loving adults, whether they are same-sex partners, two siblings, cousins or grandparents, want to share in the emotional and financial commitment to care for a child, they should be able to. For the sake of individual responsibility, we should be encouraging families to take on the role of raising children. Too many children in Virginia are without a loving home, and that is something that is within your power to fix. Studies have shown that children do better in two adult families, both emotionally and financially. The financial and emotional sustainability and lifetime success of the child should be the priority in adoptions. We must end the outdated restrictions placed on who can adopt a child.”
“Loving homes come in a variety of ways. A loving, committed couple with strong ethics can provide a stable home to a child. It does not matter if the couple is homosexual or heterosexual. There are many gay couples who have raised wonderful, well-adjusted children. Please do not put into law a prohibition against gay couples who would like to adopt. Research and empirical data suggest that children are not harmed just because Mommy and Daddy are not Mommy and Daddy. To add this prohibition is strictly discrimination against a productive segment of our population and does nothing to benefit or protect homeless children. There are enough protections in the adoptive process to weed out undesirable prospective parents. Sexual orientation should not be one of them.”
“I am young. I will not be seriously considering children for some years to come. I’m a preprofessional music educator, I babysit some of the greatest kids I’ve ever met, I’ve worked with church children’s choirs, nurseries, and Sunday schools since I was eleven years old. I think children are the most interesting kind of people there are, and all it takes is the proper guidance to turn them into world-changers. I am also a lesbian. Now imagine me, if you will, at eight years old with my baby doll. I’m probably chattering at you nonstop, telling you the baby’s name and his favorite food and how he won’t go to sleep at night unless I sing to him. Now tell that child she can’t have him. Tell me I will never have a child because I was born wrong, born with some switch in my brain flipped that will keep me from ever being able to raise a child in the right kind of home. Tell me I can’t be a mother. Tear from my arms the children I can never have. Tell the little girl who’s been in the system her entire life that she won’t have a family this year because the only couple that showed interest was white and she’s African-American when she’d give anything to never have to pack everything she owns into a garbage bag again. Tell the boy who’s never been read a bedtime story that you’ll be denying him parents who will love him. There is so much love to be given and so much is needed. By locking it up you ensure that no one will ever know how many lives that love could have touched, and that breaks our hearts.”
“I write in support of 22 VAC 40-131-170B as approved by the State Board of Social Services on April 20. The Board’s decision on April 20 empowers all agencies, including those that are faith-based, to continue the great work they are doing, without governmental intrusion into the practice of their faith. This decision continues to be the correct path to follow. I write on behalf of the Virginia Catholic Conference, which is the public-policy agency of Virginia’s Catholic bishops and their two dioceses (serving nearly 700,000 parishioners). My comments reflect the shared perspective of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington and of Commonwealth Catholic Charities and Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia within the Diocese of Richmond. The Board-approved 22 VAC 40-131-170B states: “The licensee shall prohibit acts of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin to: (1) Delay or deny a child’s placement; or (2) Deny an individual the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent.” The Conference supports this provision. During the prior comment period, the Conference (on March 31) objected to the inclusion of other items, such as sexual orientation, family status, religion, and age. The Conference hereby renews this objection and reiterates its support for the provision’s current language, which is squarely in line with federal law and avoids inconsistencies with state law. Many licensed child-placing agencies, including those of Virginia’s two Catholic dioceses, profess deeply held convictions and religious beliefs regarding the institution of marriage, the family unit, and human sexuality. These agencies have the right, under federal and state law, to make determinations according to their convictions and beliefs. The proper role of government is to respect and preserve this existing right. Just as importantly, many birthparents and prospective adoptive parents hold these convictions and beliefs too, and they should certainly be able to choose to work with agencies that share their values. Forcing agencies and individuals into a choice of whether to follow their own values or to adhere to the law is an unacceptable violation of the freedom of conscience upon which our diverse, pluralistic society is based, and of the religious freedom upon which our Commonwealth and our country were built. Faith-based agencies play a vital role in building and strengthening families in Virginia. The State Board of Social Services’ 7-2 vote on April 20 resoundingly affirmed the significant contributions faith-based agencies make to the fabric of our Commonwealth, and the fundamental right of these agencies and those they serve to practice what they profess. The proper scope of 22 VAC 40-131-170B was fully debated and rightly decided on April 20, after extensive commentary that day and well before that (in the comment period that ended April 1). Thank you for your consideration of the perspective of Virginia’s two Catholic dioceses and their agencies in this matter.”
Gillan Ludlow is a Fredericksburg native and attending Virginia Commonwealth University as a print journalism undergraduate.
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