H. Anne McEvoy, mother, grandmother, former educator
Preserve Religious Freedom
I applaud the April 20, State Board of Social Services vote in favor of revised regulations for licensed child-placing agencies, which includes a provision that prohibits acts of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin to delay or deny a child's placement; or to deny an individual the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent. Furthermore, I am relieved that the revised regulations did
not approve within this provision other items, such as "sexual orientation" and "family status."
I strongly affirm the Board's decision to empower all agencies, including those that are faith-based, to continue the great work they are doing, without governmental intrusion into the practice of their faith. These agencies have the right, under federal and state law, to make determinations according to their deeply held convictions and religious beliefs regarding the institution of marriage, the family unit, and human sexuality. So too, many birthparents and prospective adoptive parents hold these same convictions and beliefs, and they should be able to work with agencies that share their values.
I strongly support the Board's decisive 7-2 vote to uphold the religious freedom of faith-based agencies and pray that the Board will continue to uphold religious liberty in the weeks, months, and years to come. The Board's wisdom in respecting and preserving religious liberty will ultimately benefit the children and families of the Commonwealth. Forcing agencies and individuals to choose between following their own values or following the law would be an unprecedented violation of religious freedom in Virginia.
Faith-based agencies provide vital services to our communities. It would be tragic if they were forced to close because of a conflict between beliefs and law. They must be allowed to continue the great work they are doing.