Equality Virginia and HRC Condemn State Board of Social Services for Failing to Serve the Best Inter

by HRC Staff •

RICHMOND, VA - Equality Virginia and the Human Rights Campaign today condemned the Virginia State Board of Social Services for voting 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.

"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.

Section 22 VAC 40-131-170 B. of the proposed new standards for licensed child placing agencies, said 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." After today's action, the rules only prohibit discrimination based on race, national origin and ethnicity.

Founded in 1989 as Virginians for Justice, Equality Virginia is the only state-wide, 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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