Governor McDonnell Signs Religious Liberty ProtectionsApr 11, 2012
Governor Bob McDonnell yesterday signed into law one of The Family Foundation's highest legislative priorities for 2012 — conscience protections for faith-based child placement agencies (SB 349 and HB 189). With the governor's signature the bill becomes law on July 1. The law provides strong, explicit conscience protections for adoption and foster care agencies, ensuring those agencies cannot be forced to violate their beliefs, nor punished for following them when placing children. It also means that birthparents and prospective adoptive parents can continue to choose agencies that share their values.
Also, please send a note of thanks to the patrons of the legislation. Both Senator Jeff McWaters (R-8, Virginia Beach) and Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) withstood the hysteria of the homosexual lobby, its defenders in the legislature and their bullying tactics to see this legislation through. They deserve a great deal of appreciation for standing firm during a difficult battle — one where opponents attempted dozens of amendments that would have watered down the bill and used misleading rhetoric to describe the legislation. These are not easy battles to fight, and legislators who are willing to stand tall and carry these important pro-family bills must receive our gratitude (not only now, but during the session, as well, when the heat is the hottest). It's not easy to pass a bill of this magnitude, much less in its first year, but 93 out of the General Assembly's 140 legislators voted for legislation.
Click here to send a thank you note to Senator McWaters (SB 349).
Click here to send a thank you note to Delegate Gilbert (HB 189).
Faith-based child placement agencies do incredible work helping children and families, and have done so for decades. Unfortunately, because of these ministries' belief that children should have both a mom and a dad, homosexual activists unsuccessfully tried to shut them down last year through the state's regulatory process. This tremendous victory for religious freedom comes as we witness the Obama administration's unprecedented attack on the free exercise of faith in the public square and, in fact, is forcing religious institutions into actions contrary to their beliefs. As a result of this legislation, Virginia has shielded regulations with a stature and will be one of only two states to provide conscience protections for faith-based child placement agencies. We hope that our victory will serve as a model for other states.
We also would like to express our appreciation to our friends at the Virginia Catholic Conference for their tremendous advocacy on this issue, as well as leaders from numerous faith-based organizations across Virginia who came to Richmond multiple times to testify, strategize and provide wise counsel regarding their marvelous work.
Governor McDonnell's signing of this important legislation is a tremendous victory for religious liberty and an affirmation of the critical role faith-based organizations play in providing hope and security for thousands of children and families in Virginia. The governor and the General Assembly have recognized the importance of ensuring these agencies continue to do the marvelous work they have done for decades.
Regardless of the assertions of opponents, this legislation does not in any way change current law regarding who can adopt in Virginia; it simply confirms that faith-based agencies will not be discriminated against by the state simply for acting according to their faith principles. While the media will likely parrot the false claims of legislators and opponents to this new law, the truth is that this bill simply protects the status quo. We thank Governor McDonnell for his support of this legislation throughout the process and for signing it into law (click here to send him a note of thanks).