The mostly party-line 22-18 vote virtually ensures the Republican-backed bill will become law. The House of Delegates has an identical version of the bill and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell says he will sign it. Virginia would become just the second state with such a law, which supporters said was modeled after North Dakota’s.
State Sen. Jeffrey McWaters, a Republican from Virginia Beach, said his “conscience clause” bill protects the religious rights of private child placement agencies, including dozens that contract with the state to provide foster care and adoption services.
Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin thinks they may have stepped in their own bigotry with the bill's language:
No private child-placing agency shall be required to consider or consent to any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would conflict with the religious tenets of any sponsor of the agency or other organization or institution with which the child-placing agency is affiliated or associated.
Now I’m sure that all those good ol’ Southern Baptist boys thought that this gave them the power to discriminate. It did. And further more, with the people’s money. Praise Jesus*
But it also empowered others to find that certain cultural views are repressive and dangerous to children and that their faith prohibits the exposure of children to that element. For example, Quakers may find that military families are unfit based on their religious beliefs. Atheists affiliated with an established freethinkers organization could point to the tenets of their organization and decide that church goers rely on superstition and bronze age notions that hinder a child’s development. And we know that Mormons will be automatically disqualified from most taxpayer-funded but church-administered adoption or fostering programs.
The funny thing about religious beliefs is that everyone has them.
The White House weighed in earlier this week:
“While the president does not weigh in on every single action taken by legislative bodies in our country, he has long believed that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals based on their interest in offering a loving home, not based on discriminatory and irrelevant factors,” said Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson. “He recognizes that adoptive families come in many forms, and that we must do all we can to break down barriers to ensure that all qualified caregivers have the ability to serve as adoptive families.”