The Virginia Board of Social Services on Wednesday approved 5 to 1 new rules that allow adoption agencies to discriminate based on sexual orientation, political beliefs and other characteristics, The Washington Post reported.

The new regulations, which strip out protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, age, disability, gender, family status and political beliefs, take effect May 1.

Board chair Bela Sood, the lone dissenter, told the board that scientific evidence does not support the claims of some religious groups that heterosexual couples make better parents than gay couples do.

“The science really doesn't substantiate the notion that that is the only way children should be raised” Sood said.

Virginia policy allows married couples and single folks – regardless of sexual orientation – to adopt a child. The policy disproportionately affects gay and lesbian couples because they are unable to legally marry in the state.

Former Democratic Governor Timothy M. Kaine proposed rules that would prohibit state-licensed adoption agencies from discrimination based on sexual orientation, disability or family status in 2009, less than two months before he left office.

Republican Governor Bob McDonnell said he opposed the change and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, also a Republican, warned the board that it lacked the authority to imposed such regulations on private and faith-based agencies.

Christian conservatives opposed to gay rights also decried the policy; the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nations most vociferous opponent of marriage equality, called it “mandatory gay adoption.”

Opponents of the broader anti-discriminatory language said the regulations infringed on religious liberty.

“We have a right under federal and state law to make decisions consistent with our religious beliefs,” Krystal Thompson, CEO of Commonwealth Catholic Charities, told the Richmond Times Dispatch.