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Virginia anti-gay adoption law takes effect

Governor Bob McDonnell signed the “conscience clause” law earlier this year



Bob McDonnell, Robert McDonnell, gay news, gay politics dc

Gov. Robert McDonnell signed SB 349 earlier this year. (photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia commons)

LGBT activists remain concerned that a new Virginia law that allows private adoption and foster care agencies to reject prospective parents based on religious or moral beliefs could subject gays and lesbians to what they describe as unnecessary discrimination.

Senate Bill 349, which became known as the “conscience clause,” took effect on July 1 after Gov. Bob McDonnell signed it into law earlier this year. Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) told the Blade that SB 349 only reinforces current regulations that “made it easier to discriminate” against prospective parents based on their sexual orientation.

“Equality Virginia still believes this constitutes state-supported discrimination, as these agencies are using state funding to perform a public function,” added James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia. “We are most concerned about LGBTQ youth in the foster care system, since agencies can place these children in harmful situations such as ex-gay therapy, as long as doing so is in accordance with the agencies’ beliefs.”

North Dakota is the only other state with a so-called “conscience clause” adoption law.

Catholic Charities of Boston in 2006 ceased adoptions after it refused to comply with Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation (and now gender identity and expression.) Catholic Charities of Illinois followed suit late last year after lawmakers directed the agency, which received public funds, to place children with same-sex couples after the state’s civil unions law took effect.

State Sen. Jeff McWaters (R-Virginia Beach,) who sponsored SB 349, did not return the Blade’s request for comment. McDonnell spokesperson Taylor Thonrley defended the law.

“This legislation just codifies existing regulations that prohibit religious discrimination,” she told the Blade. “Private, religious-based adoption agencies are a major asset to our communities as they work diligently to find loving, caring, stable homes for children in need of care. This legislation will help ensure that these adoption agencies remain active in finding homes for these children without being mandated by government to violate the tenets of their deeply held religious beliefs in the process. This is a bill that reaffirms religious liberty and freedom, a hallmark of this great nation.”

Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, told the Blade that her organization has “not heard directly” from gay Virginians who may have been directly impacted by the statute.  She stressed that she feels “it’s just a matter of time before we see it play out.”

“The primary and most obvious concern is that children will be denied the opportunity to be placed in a loving home environment because some agency decides for whatever reason because of their moral belief they are not going to place that child with a same-sex couple,” added Chrisler. “That’s what’s so sad about this law, that it is really denying opportunity to those kids in the foster care system and in the adoption system in Virginia, which has one of the worst records in the country in terms of placing kids out of foster care. It denies them the opportunity to have a chance, to experience a loving stable home environment.”

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  1. Diane McLaughlin

    July 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Gee, thanks Governor McDonnell for denying children a loving family. Thanks for keeping them in a sterile system that shows them no love, no hope. Thanks for being the homophobic, bigoted jerk you are.

  2. Adam Ebbin

    July 18, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I should have mentioned that this bill clearly requires the state to award money to private agencies that they can use to discriminate. Bad policy, bad use of taxpayer funds that only hurts kids and further reduces the opportunities for more parents to take kids from foster care to loving homes.

  3. M. Caress

    September 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    What about the Separation of Church and State? Just because a person doesn’t have the same beliefs as another does not make them a bad person. I feel as if Morals and Ethics are more important than Church. Period! A child brought up in a gay household should have no bearing on whether or not It is safe. It is deemed safe if the person’s MORALS and ETHICS are in tack, and can be taught to the youth being adopted. This is why we have issues with kids never being adopted, or fostered, then trying to make it on their own when they reach adulthood, with no family support. This is why those numbers are surprising low for a child who doesn’t get adopted or permanently placed to succeed. WAKE up America, OUR forefathers put into act the separation of CHURCH and STATE for a reason. I don’t care if you like that some one is gay, no one asked you to think about their private act, that should be private anyway. Where do your minds go? Really. UGH!!! I’m not gay, but my Brother is, he is 14. And let me tell you, I support him all the way. Regardless. FIDTS

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol



Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors



Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding



What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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