Put Virginia’s Children First
January 27, 2012 by Paul Guequierre
Adoption is once again in the spotlight in Virginia. If you remember, last year the Virginia State Board of Social Services voted twice to strip legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, disability, political beliefs and family status from final rules governing licensed adoption and foster care agencies. The Board originally voted to strip the protections in April, but later re-opened the public comment period before voting again in December despite the fact that the majority of the public comments were in favor of the discrimination protections.
HRC worked with openly gay state Delegate Adam Ebbin to speak out for Virginia’s children. Fortunately Ebbin has since been elected to the state Senate and has introduced SB 569, which along with SB 647, introduced by Sen. Donald McEachin, would ban discrimination by adoption and foster care agencies that contract with the state or receive state funding.
The time to put Virginia’s children first is now. There are currently 1,600 children in Virginia’s foster care system in need of a loving forever home. Let’s not let politics trump their welfare again. Virginia ranks first in nation in the percentage of children who age out of foster care (32%) and in 2009 had the lowest rate of public adoptions in the U.S. Shouldn’t we be working to increase the pool of loving families in Virginia rather than discriminating in the adoption process?
These bills do not change the law on who can adopt or foster children. They simply end discrimination against those legally eligible to adopt and the children in the system.
Meanwhile, two so-called “conscience clause” bills (SB 349 and HB 189) would authorize licensed, state-funded adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate in making adoption and foster care services available to children and prospective parents. HRC vehemently opposes these bills. This is not a religious freedom issue. Offering adoption and foster care services to the public is a secular not a religious activity. Children in foster care are the state's children while they are in the system.
If you live in Virginia, contact your state legislators and tell them to support SB 569 and SB 647 and oppose SB 349 and HB 189.
With well over 100,000 children nationwide in need of a loving forever home, the issue of adoption by same-sex couples has heated up over the past year. We have seen attacks on our families by anti-equality forces, despite the fact that all major medical and child welfare organizations, including the American Medical Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association have all come out in favor of allowing same-same sex couples to adopt.
Learn more about HRC’s adoption work at www.hrc.org/acaf.
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