Q&A about social services board’s decision on adoptions

As we reported in Wednesday’s paper, the State Board of Social Services overwhelmingly voted late Wednesday to continue a practice that some argue allows faith-based organizations in Virginia to discriminate in adoptions.

Human Rights Campaign Family Project Director Ellen Kahn answered readers’ questions online for The Washington Post about what the board’s decision means for gay rights.

Q: The ol’ hate state

I am always ashamed to admit I live in Virginia because of Richmond’s backwards notions of civil rights. Do these organization like the Catholic adoption agencies receive state funding? Or are they 100% private? It does seem to me that private adoption agencies should be free to set their own criteria for adoptive parents. But if they are really representatives of the state then they should lose that ability. Can gay couples still adopt if only one member of the couple officially adopts the child? I know a gay couple here in Arlington with two adopted kids. But I am not sure if they adopted them in D.C. somehow or what their situation was. Are unmarried heterosexual couples also precluded from adopting?

Ellen Kahn: There are many child welfare and adoption professionals in Virginia who are eager to welcome same-sex couples as adoptive families — the Board’s decision does not represent the opinion of all agencies. I agree that if an agency received public money that it should absolutely not discriminate against Virginia citizens. Catholic Charities places children from foster care, so technically they do receive public money. And yes, heterosexual couples would be restricted from adopting in VA if they are not married, but truth be told, this restriction disproportionately affects same-sex couples since marriage is not an option in VA.

(See the rest of the chat here.)

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