Adoption in Virginia
Last month we had our hopes raised only to have them dashed by the State Social Services Board, sometimes called the State Board of Social Services or SBSS. These nine people, appointed by the governor to serve four year terms, set the policy for social workers in Virginia. Many of us heard of this debate only in the terms of "gay adoption", but the issues became so distorted over the course of the public comment period that it was hard to distinguish fact and propaganda.
The facts are these. It has long been the case in Virginia that only married couples or single individuals can adopt according state law. Hopefully this comes as no surprise to you, but gay people cannot get married in Virginia, yet. There is however no law banning GLBT people from adopting a child in this state. Many of us remember last year when Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli effectively said it was against the law to have a non-discrimination policy at our public institutions. This is not the case when it comes to adoption.
Let me say again, there is no law prohibiting GLBT people from adopting, just one that prohibits us from being legally married.
The Social Services Board was considering making it against policy to discriminate against a whole host of people including the disabled, veterans, the elderly, GLBT people, and those of other religions. This policy change was widely attacked during the public comment period last month and widely misunderstood, as it would still only apply to married people or single individuals.
Several social justice groups are now collectively asking for a new public comment period to be opened. People of Faith for Equality in Va has joined with Equality Virginia, the ACLU and others in seeking a chance to set the record straight, so to speak. The Social Services Board enacted a new policy, but a very limited one, that only protects those who are under Federal guarantee, namely gender and race. This is our second chance to really speak our mind and create a record for the future to help us continue to lobby both the General Assembly and the Social Services Board. We need ammunition to help win this fight, and in this battle, your stories of love and family is exactly what we all need to hear. Please do not stay silent.
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