January 23, 2015 at 12:36 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Va. lawmakers kill second-parent adoption bill

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LGBT rights advocates on Friday criticized a Virginia Senate committee that killed a second-parent adoption bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Virginia lawmakers on Friday killed a bill that would have allowed second-parent adoptions in the state.

Members of the state Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee by a 7-8 vote margin voted against the bill The vote took place immediately after lawmakers held a hearing on the measure that state Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County) introduced last fall.

“This bill is about one thing: Protecting Virginia’s children and ensuring that when there are two parents who are willing and able to take responsibility for a child — the law will allow them to do so — as long as it is in the best interest of the child,” said Howell during the hearing.

James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, echoed the Fairfax County Democrat in a statement he released after the committee killed her bill.

“A bill to allow second-parent adoption would have done one thing, and one thing only – protect Virginia’s children,” said Parrish. “It is extremely discouraging that our lawmakers cannot come together in support of a commonsense bill that would ensure all children have legal access to the parents who are raising them.”

The same committee last January killed an identical bill that Howell introduced.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe last October announced in a bulletin to the Virginia Department of Social Services that same-sex couples can now legally adopt children in the commonwealth.

Gays and lesbians began to legally marry in Virginia on Oct. 6 after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept a case that challenged the constitutionality of the state’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and state Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) are among the lawmakers who have introduced bills that would seek a repeal of the marriage amendment that voters approved in 2006. Ebbin has put forth a separate measure that would change gender-specific references in the commonwealth’s marriage laws and regulations to “spouse.”

A separate Senate committee on Thursday killed a bill that would have banned “conversion therapy” to minors in Virginia.

“The Senate is killing all kinds of bills in committee because life here in the commonwealth is just so amazing idyllic for the straight white men who are the majority of ‘deciderers’ in our legislature,” Catherine Read, an Equality Virginia board member who lives in Fairfax, told the Blade. “To change the outcome, we need to change the people sitting in those seats.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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