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Same-sex adoptions lose ground after Va. board vote

RICHMOND -- The State Board of Social Services has voted overwhelmingly against new adoption rules that some say would allow same-sex couples to adopt in the state for the first time.

In a 7-2 vote Wednesday afternoon, the board opted against the new rules, first proposed by former governor Tim Kaine. In Virginia, only married couples and single men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, can adopt. The proposed changes would require private and faith-based groups, such as Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services, to allow gay parents to adopt or foster children.

Some members of the board, including Democratic appointees who make up the 5-4 majority, had told The Washington Post on Tuesday they would be guided by advice from Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II. He said in a memo last week that the proposed new adoption rules would violate state law.

Cuccinelli’s position reverses a 2009 decision made by his predecessor, William C. Mims, a former Republican legislator and now a Virginia Supreme Court justice. Mims did not return messages Tuesday.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell had also opposed the proposed regulations.

Board chairwoman Bela Sood, who was appointed by former Democratic governors Kaine and Mark R. Warner, said that despite members’ philosophical disagreements, they had to rely on the attorney general’s views. “We have to depend on them,” she said. “They are very clear and direct.”

The proposed regulations would protect against discrimination on the basis of gender, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, family status, race, color or national origin.

Gay rights and adoption advocacy groups have been pressuring McDonnell and the board — writing them, taking out ads and holding news conferences — to approve the regulations.

“No person who wants to become a parent should be forced to leave the state to do so, and no child should be denied a loving home because of such discrimination,” James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia. told the Post on Tuesday.

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