RICHMOND, Va. — Lawmakers from both houses of Virginia’s legislature passed a measure Friday that codifies into law regulations adopted by the state’s Board of Social Services this past December, which allows private adoption agencies to deny placements based on factors including gender, age, religion disability, sexual orientation and family status.
In a party line vote, the Republican majority House of Delegates voted 71-28 to pass the legislation, while a State Senate committee endorsed its version of the Republican-backed measure also on a 8-7 party-line vote.
Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is expected to sign the measure into law as soon as it crosses his desk.
Sponsors and supporters are claiming that the law will protect religious freedom. Critics charge that the state’s government, which contracts with dozens of private, state-licensed child placement agencies, in the commonwealth, is now in a position to sanction discrimination.
Opponents also argued that since the state is allowing this exemption then state funding should be eliminated.
The new rules run headlong into voter opinion — fifty-five percent of Virginia adults believe it should be legal for gay parents to adopt.
Nearly six thousand Virginia children live in foster homes.