Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) told reporters at a Tuesday news conference that he opposes proposed regulations developed by his Democratic predecessor that would for the first time allow gay couples to adopt children in Virginia.

“I know I had said during the campaign that I would essentially keep our adoption laws -- which I think are good -- the way they are now,’’ McDonnell said. “I think the current regulations that are in place seem to be working well.”

Currently, only married couples and single men and women — regardless of sexual orientation — can adopt in Virginia.

The proposal, according to the governor’s office, would mandate that gay singles and unmarried couples be able to access faith-based groups, such as Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services, to adopt children.

“I don’t think we ought to force Catholic Charities to make that part of their policy or other similar situated groups,’’ McDonnell said. “Many of our adoption agencies are faith-based groups that ought to be able to establish what their own policies are. Current regulations that say you can’t discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin I think are proper. I think previous efforts to expand that to a number of other classes are going to have very strict scrutiny to make sure that we don’t inhibit the very fine work some faith-based organizations are doing.”

Former governor Tim Kaine, who announced Tuesday that he is running for U.S. Senate in 2012, proposed the change to the regulations in November 2009, less than two months before he left the office to become the full-time chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

McDonnell has until April 16 to make a recommendation to the State Board of Social Services, a nine-member panel of which all but four members are holdovers from Kaine.

On the House floor Tuesday, several delegates debated the issue of whether same sex couples should be allowed to adopt. Several delegates, including Del. Adam Ebbin, the only openly-gay legislator, asked McDonnell to not oppose the regulations.