As a citizen of the Commonwealth and someone who would like to adopt children in the future, I respectfully and strongly urge you to approve the original regulations banning discrimination based on race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability and family status. The sole basis for a decision on placing a child with foster or adoptive parents should be the best interests of the child. Research on gay and lesbian parents suggests that they just as capable of providing wonderful homes for children as their heterosexual counterparts. Denying them the opportunity to adopt is unfair to prospective parents and, most importantly, to children waiting for a home.
Please do not be swayed by the rhetoric that “religious freedom” is the biggest principle at stake in this decision. This has to do with state licensing practices, and part of the state’s role should be to prohibit discrimination. The fact that we are having a debate on whether or not discrimination should be allowed against individuals and couples qualified to adopt children is a sad commentary on the politics of this state and nation – but perhaps the number of comments against discrimination is a sign that the tide is turning.
Virginia is not known as a progressive state, but the right thing to do is to stand up for all suitable, loving families who wish to adopt children. As the Board of Social Services, you have the opportunity to stand on the right side of history, to make a statement against discrimination, to prove that Virginia is a state where all qualified families have the opportunity to open their home to a child who desperately wants one. Please do not waste that opportunity.