Equality Virginia and HRC Ask State Board of Social Services to Reject Commissioner's Recommendation

by HRC Staff

Richmond, VA - Equality Virginia and the Human Rights Campaign today called on the Virginia State Board of Social Services to reject recommended amendments proposed in a memo from the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services dated April 20, 2011 [sic] and earlier advice from the Attorney General and approve publication and implementation of rules governing licensed child placing agencies that include a provision barring discrimination based on sexual orientation against prospective adoptive and foster parents. The Commissioner is an appointee of Gov. McDonnell who has said he opposes adding additional non-discrimination protections.

"The Governor was right when he said in his Executive Directive Number 1 that '[d]iscrimination based on factors such as one's sexual orientation or parental status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution,'" said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. "The Commissioner is wrong in recommending changes to the proposed adoption rules that are inconsistent with this principle."

"We urge the State Board of Social Services to take action to approve the non-discrimination rule consistent with their obligation as state officials and public servants to protect all Virginia citizens from unconstitutional discrimination. No person who wants to become a parent should be forced to leave the state to do so, and no child should be denied a loving home because of such discrimination," Parrish concluded.

"Virginia's children deserve better than the politics the Governor and Commissioner are playing," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Now the State Board of Social Services has the chance to put children first. We ask members of the board to reject the Commissioner's recommendations and eliminate discrimination in the adoption process. We also 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."

Section 22VAC40-131-170 B. of the proposed new standards for licensed child placing agencies, which the Governor and the Attorney General would like to amend, says that such an agency licensed by the state shall "prohibit acts of discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or family status to: 1. Delay or deny a child's placement or 2. Deny an individual the opportunity to apply to become a foster or adoptive parent."

Founded in 1989 as Virginians for Justice, Equality Virginia is the only statewide, non-partisan education, outreach and advocacy organization seeking equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Virginians. Equality Virginia believes in a truly inclusive Commonwealth where all are equally welcomed and valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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