The Virginia House of Delegates on
Friday approved a bill that would limit gay and lesbian people from
adopting children, the AP reported.
The measure would allow private
adoption agencies to reject gay applicants if it conflicts with their
religious or moral beliefs.
The House overwhelmingly backed the
measure with a 71 to 28 vote. The Senate version of the bill also
advanced on Friday. The Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services
Committee approved the bill with an 8-7 party-line vote. Republican
Governor Bob McDonnell has said he supports the legislation.
The measue is sponsored in the House by
Delegate Todd Gilbert, a Republican from Woodstock, and in the Senate
by Senator Jeffrey McWaters, a Republican from Virginia Beach.
“I applaud my colleagues for
embracing the continued protection of religious liberties in the
Commonwealth of Virginia,” Gilbert said in a statement. “When
signed into law by Governor McDonnell, this measure will chisel into
law the principle that people of faith can adhere to their
convictions, without fear of reprisal from those who would
discriminate against their religious beliefs regarding how we should
raise our children.”
Democratic Senator Mark R. Herring said
that the bill would allow any agency to discriminate against
prospective foster or adoptive gay parents.
“What this bill is designed to do is
allow any agency to discriminate based on sexual orientation,”
Herring said during the committee hearing.
Virginia also only allows married
couples to jointly adopt a child, which disproportionately affects
gay and lesbian couples because they are unable to legally marry in
Lawmakers acted after the Virginia
Board of Social Services reversed anti-discrimination rules based on
personal factors, including sexual orientation. Those rules take
effect May 1.