BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS
LGBT activists remain concerned that a new Virginia law that allows private adoption and foster care agencies to reject prospective parents based on religious or moral beliefs could subject gays and lesbians to what they describe as unnecessary discrimination.
Senate Bill 349, which became known as the “conscience clause,” took effect on July 1 after Gov. Bob McDonnell signed it into law earlier this year. Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) told the Blade that SB 349 only reinforces current regulations that “made it easier to discriminate” against prospective parents based on their sexual orientation.
“Equality Virginia still believes this constitutes state-supported discrimination, as these agencies are using state funding to perform a public function,” added James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia. “We are most concerned about LGBTQ youth in the foster care system, since agencies can place these children in harmful situations such as ex-gay therapy, as long as doing so is in accordance with the agencies’ beliefs.”
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