The Virginia Human Rights Act, 2.2-3900 states that:
It is the policy of the Commonwealth to:
1. Safeguard all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability, in places of public accommodation, including educational institutions and in real estate transactions; in employment; preserve the public safety, health and general welfare; and further the interests, rights and privileges of individuals within the Commonwealth; and
2. Protect citizens of the Commonwealth against unfounded charges of unlawful discrimination.
The nondiscrimination rule proposed in final form by the State Board of Social Services implements this policy by protecting individuals applying to be foster care or adoptive parents from being denied adoption services by a state-licensed child placement agency simply because of their religion (or marital status, sex or disability or age).
Many of the comments on this rule state unequivocally that some faith-based agencies want to discriminate based on religion in making adoption and foster care services available. To continue to allow them to do so as agents of the state would be in direct contravention to the stated public policy of the Commonwealth.
The Board of Social Services should implement this public policy by restoring the nondiscrimination provisions to the rules.