A Virginia state senator has introduced legislation that would prohibit the state from contracting with adoption agencies that discriminate against prospective parents on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Adam Ebbin, a Democrat from Alexandria, in northern Virginia, introduced the bill last week, the
reports. It also covers other characteristics, including race, religion, sex, family status, national origin, and disability.
The move comes after the state's Board of Social Services
declined to enact guidelines that would prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in adoption.
"One major issue is whether charities that receive tax dollars should be able to discriminate," Ebbin said Friday. "Adoption is a public act that goes through state courts, and no government agent should engage in discrimination."
Competing legislation has been introduced in the Senate and House of Delegates that would allow agencies to deny adoption or foster care placements that would go against the agencies' religious tenets, essentially writing the Board of Social Services guidelines into law.
The state has 120 local departments of social services, and there are 77 state-licensed private agencies with which they can contract for adoption and foster care services.
The issue of discrimination by private, religious agencies has come up recently in other states. In Illinois, for instance, the state
ended its contracts
with Catholic Charities agencies for adoption services when the groups refused to serve gay parents in civil unions, as required by a law that went into effect last year.