RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell plans to announce a new campaign Friday that aims to adopt 1,000 Virginia children out of foster care, but equality groups around the state are calling foul on the new initiative, which comes one year after McDonnell signed legislation allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against gay parents.
“Every child deserves the security and love that a family provides,” said McDonnell, in a video to support the campaign. “We all need ongoing love and support.”
But last year, McDonnell signed a bill approved by the Virginia legislature to allow private adoption and foster care agencies to deny placement of children based on religious or moral beliefs, including disapproval of homosexuality.
The bill was signed by McDonnell April 2012, and the law took effect on July 1, 2012.
“We agree with Governor McDonnell,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia, one of the groups questioning McDonnell’s new initiative. “However his administration’s actions have continually put the special interests of certain agencies ahead of the best interests of all children in need of a loving family in Virginia.”
“I would say this is a joke, but nobody is laughing,” said Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy for Family Equality Council.
“For the Governor to launch this campaign little more than a year after locking thousands of doors to Virginia’s foster youth is outlandish,” said Hecht-McGowan
Conservative groups that supported last year’s legislation said it stopped the state from forcing agencies to violate their religious principles, while opponents of the measure say the law not only limits the number of children being adopted, it specifically targets same-sex couples.
“We just think it’s ironic that the Governor is doing this especially after excluding gay and lesbian families with the ‘Conscience Clause’ legislation.” said Kevin Clay, Equality Virginia’s Communications Manager.
Since the video’s release, Equality Virginia and the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union have asked for a reversal of McDonnell’s adoption laws.