January 25, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
Virginia Senate committee kills second-parent adoption bill

James Parrish, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish on Jan. 24 criticized lawmakers who voted against a second-parent adoption bill (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Virginia lawmakers on Friday killed a bill that would have extended second-parent adoption rights to gays and lesbians.

Members of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee by a 6-6 vote margin struck down the measure that state Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County) introduced on Jan. 7.

State Sens. Linda “Toddy” Puller (D-Fairfax County), Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), George Barker (D-Alexandria), Barbara Favola (D-Arlington), John Miller (D-Newport News) and Kenneth Alexander (D-Norfolk) voted for Senate Bill 336. State Sens. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach), Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta County), Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover County), Richard Black (R-Loudoun County), Bryce Reeves (R-Fredericksburg) and Walter Stosch (R-Henrico County) opposed the measure.

State Sen. Thomas Norment (R-Williamsburg) did not vote.

There are also two vacancies on the committee that have yet to be filled since Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring — both of whom were state senators before their election last November — took office on Jan. 11.

“By denying passage of the second-parent adoption bill, Senators Wagner, Hanger, McDougle, Black, Reeves and Stosch are simply denying children across Virginia who are being raised by loving lesbian or gay parents the protection and security that having two legal parents would offer,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish. “Today’s Senate committee vote against second-parent adoption is just another example of how completely out of touch these senators are with their constituents and the majority of Virginians. They are standing on the wrong side of history.”

Virginia law currently allows only heterosexual couples and single gays and lesbians to adopt children.

A 2012 law allows private adoption and foster care agencies to reject prospective parents based on religious or moral beliefs. Parrish and other LGBT rights advocates maintain this so-called “conscience clause” could subject gays and lesbians to additional discrimination in the commonwealth.

The House Civil Law Subcommittee on Monday is scheduled to debate a second-parent adoption bill that state Del. Joseph Yost (R-Giles County) introduced earlier this month.

State Dels. Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), Gordon Helsel (R-Poquoson), Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church), Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), Tom Rust (R-Fairfax County) and Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) have co-sponsored House Bill 1113.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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