This Thursday afternoon and Friday morning General Assembly committees will consider one of The Family Foundation’s highest legislative priorities, SB 349 and HB 189. This legislation would provide conscience protections for faith-based child placement agencies. Please go to our Action page and urge members of the House HWI subcommittee and Senate Rehab and Social Services committee to support HB 189 (HWI) and SB 349 (Rehab)!!
Contrary to the claims of some opposing this legislation, it does not change current Virginia adoption law; it simply codifies & clarifies the status quo.
This proposal does not in any way affect who can adopt children in Virginia. According to current law, married couples and individuals, heterosexual or homosexual, can already adopt and there are public and private agencies that facilitate those adoptions. That will not change should this proposal become law.
What it will do is protect the organizations and agencies that facilitate the majority of adoptions in Virginia and help place hundreds of foster children into permanent homes.
Some child-placing agencies profess deeply held convictions and religious beliefs regarding the institution of marriage, the family unit, and human sexuality. These agencies must be allowed to continue the great work they are doing, without governmental intrusion into the practice of their faith. Last year, homosexual groups and the ACLU attempted to coerce these organizations through regulation into adopting children to homosexuals regardless of the faith principles of the organization. In polling we released today, 54 percent of Virginians oppose efforts to force these important ministries to act against their beliefs.
Efforts to punish faith-based agencies because of their views on family would not increase the number of children adopted, it would decrease it by forcing the majority of private child placement agencies, which are sectarian, to cease fulfilling their mission or violate their faith. Because the vast majority of adoptions in Virginia are facilitated by faith-based agencies, forcing them to abandon their missions would reduce the hope for hundreds of children in need of adoption.
In addition, birth parents’ rights to choose families of like faith when they choose adoption should be protected. Often a birth mother chooses a child placement agency that shares their convictions and an adoptive family in part because they share the same faith. This legislation will affirm and protect that crucial right.