RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia legislators have passed a bill allowing private adoption agencies to deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, including opposition to homosexuality.
The state House voted 71-28 to pass the legislation Friday. Earlier in the day, a Senate committee endorsed its version of the Republican-backed measure on an 8-7 party-line vote. Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected to sign the bill.
Supporters say the measure protects religious freedom. Opponents argue that the government, which contracts with dozens of private, state-licensed child placement agencies, should not sanction discrimination.
The Virginia Board of Social Services in December adopted regulations allowing discrimination by private agencies based on factors including gender, age, religion disability, sexual orientation and family status. The bill would convert those regulations into state law.