State Board of Social Services Fails to Serve the Best Interests of Virginia’s Children
April 20, 2011
Moments ago the Virginia State Board of Social Services let Virginia’s children down. By a vote of 7-2, the Board stripped 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. By keeping discrimination in the adoption process, the Board is in effect limiting the number of loving homes available.
HRC has worked closely with Equality Virginia to persuade members of the State Board of Social Services to do the right thing by putting the best interests of the children before politics. After the vote, HRC and EV made the following statements.
“Today the State Board of Social Services told the 1,300 children already waiting for a loving, forever home that they’ll have to wait longer,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We will continue to fight for Virginia’s children. We call on the legislature to pass legislation that makes the best interest of the child the sole basis for adoption, not whether someone is gay or whether two caring adults are able to be married.”
"It is a sad day, indeed, when public servants charged with upholding the constitution and serving the best interests of Virginia's children put those obligations aside because of political pressure or fear," said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. "We need to change the law so that Virginia's children in foster care and waiting for adoption are not denied the opportunity to have a loving home and two parents to care for them based on factors, such as the sexual orientation of the prospective parents, which have nothing to do with the children's best interests. We will take action to assure that no GLBT person or couple with a loving home to offer a child is denied the right to parent simply because of who they are."
The proposed rules amended by the Board today have been pending since fall 2009, before the recent change in administrations, and were approved for publication as proposed rules by the current administration early in 2010. At the eleventh hour, Governor McDonnell expressed a preference for keeping the nondiscrimination rule unchanged (banning only discrimination based on race, national origin and ethnicity), and the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services placed that recommendation before the Board for action today.