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Final Vote in Virginia: Same-sex Couples Can't Adopt

Final Vote in Virginia: Same-sex Couples Can't Adopt

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Virginia took the last step on Wednesday in blocking an effort to let same-sex couples adopt children in the state.

The Board of Social Services approved regulations governing adoptions in the state on a 5-1 vote, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The originally proposed anti-discrimination policy included sexual orientation. But when Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell took office he backed a pared down version of the policy, which starts in May.

Agencies will now effectively be permitted to discriminate against prospective foster or adoptive parents based on sexual orientation, age, gender, disability, religion, political belief, and family status, according to the Times-Dispatch.

Only race, color, or national origin are included in the rules.

The state already bars same-sex couples (but not gay individuals) from adopting. Equality advocates have tried to change that policy. A spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell said in April that "the existing adoption regulations are effective and fair."

Gay rights group Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union argued unsuccessfully that expanding anti-discrimination protections would have increased the pool of prospective parents and led to more children being placed in good homes. But faith-based agencies said the new policy would have forced them to place children with gay couples, which they claim violates their religious beliefs.

The Family Equality Council notes that more than 6,000 children are in the Virginia foster care system and more than 1,500 children are waiting for adoption.

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