Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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9/16/11  6:12 pm
Commenter: William R Watts, Virginia Catholic Conference

Protect deeply held convictions

I am writing in support of 22 VAC 40-131-170B as approved by the State Board of Social Services on April 20. 

The Board’s decision on April 20 allows all agencies, including those that are faith-based, to continue the great work they are doing, without governmental intrusion into the practice of their deeply held convictions and beliefs.  The currently approved language of 22 VAC 40-131-170B states: “The licensee shall prohibit acts of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin to: (1) Delay or deny a child’s placement; or (2) Deny an individual the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent.”

I support this provision, and object to the inclusion of other items, such as sexual orientation, family status, religion, and age because many licensed child-placing agencies, including those of Virginia’s two Catholic dioceses, have deeply held convictions and religious beliefs regarding the institution of marriage, the family unit, and human sexuality.  These agencies have the right, under federal and state law, to make determinations according to their convictions and beliefs. 

The proper role of government is to respect and preserve this existing right of these agencies.  Just as importantly, many birthparents and prospective adoptive parents hold these convictions and beliefs too, and they should certainly be able to choose to work with agencies that share their values. While I understand that some of the public do not share the values of faith-based agencies, they have the freedom to work with agencies that do.   Faith-based agencies should have the same freedom to offer services in accordance with their convictions and religious beliefs.

CommentID: 18483