As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I ask that you consider the following points below when deciding on this very important issue concerning religious freedom and the welfare of the children of the commonwealth.
· On April 20, the State Board of Social Services correctly upheld the fundamental right of faith-based child placement agencies to continue their great work of helping children and families without governmental intrusion into the practice of their faith.
· Faith-based child placement agencies have a right, under federal and state law, to make decisions that are consistent with their religious beliefs, including their beliefs about marriage and family life. This right must be respected and preserved.
· Many birthparents and prospective adoptive parents hold these beliefs as well, and they have every right to work with agencies that share their values.
· Forcing agencies and individuals to choose between following their own values or following the proposed discriminatory regulation would be an unprecedented violation of religious freedom in Virginia. Religious liberty is foundational to our Commonwealth and our country.
· Faith-based agencies provide vital services to our communities. They must be allowed to continue the great work they are doing.
Thank you for considering these points as you move forth to decide on this important subject.