Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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10/11/11  1:21 pm
Commenter: Emily J. Martin, V.P. and Gen. Counsel, National Women's Law Center

Ban Discrimination Against Loving Families

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) writes in full support of prohibiting discrimination by any child placement agency against prospective adoptive parents based on gender, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or family status.  NWLC is a nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to the advancement and protection of women’s legal rights in all aspects of their lives.  Since 1972, NWLC has worked to secure equal opportunity for women, which includes participating in family life without the limitations imposed by gender stereotypes.  We would like to thank the Virginia Department of Social Services for providing this opportunity to comment.

Discrimination against fit, loving prospective parents on the proposed prohibited bases harms children by arbitrarily limiting the number of families able to adopt and diminishing the likelihood that a foster child will find a permanent home.  It also harms those who seek to adopt and are prevented from creating a family based on animus and stereotypes.  Over the past forty years, society and the courts have come to recognize that laws should not interfere with parents’ ability to provide secure and loving homes for children based on preconceptions about appropriate gender roles.  E.g., Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U.S. 380, 389 (1979) (“[M]aternal and paternal roles are not invariably different in importance.”); Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636, 652 (1975) (“It is no less important for a child to be cared for by its sole surviving parent when that parent is male rather than female.”)  Children in need of adoptive homes should receive the benefit of this principle and not be denied placement with qualified families simply because, for instance, the family does not conform to the stereotype of a female primary caregiver and male breadwinner, or to the expectation that a family includes two parents of the opposite sex. 

The evidence is overwhelming that characteristics such as gender and sexual orientation do not prevent individuals from raising children in loving, supportive homes.  Virginia should act in the best interests of children and families and adopt the proposed nondiscrimination rule.

CommentID: 20617