HRC Condemns VA State Board of Social Services for Failing to Serve the Best Interests Children

by HRC Staff

RICHMOND, VA – The Human Rights Campaign today condemned the Virginia State Board of Social Services for voting for a second time 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. The majority of the public comments were in favor of the discrimination protections.

“Politics once again trumped child welfare in Virginia,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “How many times can you shortchange the 1,300 children in Virginia’s foster care system waiting for a loving, forever home?  We again call on the legislature to make it right by passing 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.”

The proposed rules amended by the Board have been pending since fall 2009, before the 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.  The Board has twice voted not to broaden the nondiscrimination rule. 

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."   The rules now only prohibit discrimination based on race, national origin and ethnicity.

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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