FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Nicholas Kessler, 804-381-6647
February 3, 2012 firstname.lastname@example.org
VIRGINIA PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS STATEMENT ON HB 189
Bill Would Permit Discrimination Against Adoptive LGBT Parents
Richmond - Yesterday, the Virginia House of Delegates voted to give approval on second reading to HB 189. This so-called "conscience clause" bill would authorize licensed, state-funded adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate in making their services available to children and prospective parents. The main intent of the bill is to allow discrimination against prospective parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
The patrons of HB 189 are Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Page) and Del. Robert Marshall (R-Prince William).
Today the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services also voted to report an identical bill, SB 349. The patron of SB 349 is Sen. Jeffrey McWaters (R-Virginia Beach).
Today the Progressive Caucus has released its 2012 agenda regarding discrimination against LGBT Virginians, including the policy goal of opposing "discrimination in adoption by LGBT parents." The Progressive Caucus strongly opposes HB 189 and SB 349.
Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), co-Chairman of the Progressive Caucus, said, "The real issue is whether tax dollars should go to agencies that discriminate in adoption and foster care."
Delegate David Englin (D-Alexandria) said, "This law has one purpose, which is to protect the ability of religious groups receiving millions of dollars of taxpayer money to deny adoption and foster care placements involving gay and lesbian parents. This isn't a 'conscience clause' -- it's a 'state-sponsored discrimination clause.' You will find no greater champion of religious freedom than I am, and if a religion endorses bigotry, that's unfortunate, but that's its right. But the government has a duty to protect and respect all of its citizens equally, so when a religious group is under contract to act as an agent of the government, different rules apply. If any group wants to discriminate, it should do so without help and support from taxpayers.
"To add insult to injury, this bill is so poorly worded that it will allow any group to discriminate in adoption and foster care placements for almost any reason, including in ways that risk the health and safety of children placed in their care. For example, a group can have a policy requiring corporal punishment and child labor, and this law will cripple the ability of the Department of Social Services to intervene"
Protect LGBT Virginians from Discrimination
All Virginians are entitled to equal treatment under the law, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity
· Prohibit discrimination against LGBT state and private sector employees
· End discrimination in schools and bullying of LGBT students
· Prohibit discrimination in adoption by LGBT parents
· Allow religious institutions to perform holy matrimony ceremonies for same-sex couples
· Oppose any ban on service by LGBT members in the Virginia National Guard