Washington, D.C.— Wednesday, the Virginia Board of Social Services’ voted to allow state-licensed adoption agencies to discriminate on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender and political beliefs. In response, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement:
Virginia’s decision to allow adoption agencies that operate as a part of state government to discriminate against potential adoptive parents on the basis of their religion, sexual orientation or political beliefs, in the name of “religious freedom” represents an appalling disrespect for the United States Constitution. Not only does it represent a set-back in civil rights provisions, it also threatens to compromise the integrity of religion.
Faith-based agencies that facilitate private adoptions without funding from government have more leeway in using criteria in line with their faith traditions to evaluate prospective adoptive parents, but agencies that are licensed and funded by taxpayer dollars should not get the option to discriminate. No agency, religious or not, should be funded by tax-payers and exempted from civil rights laws. The state of Virginia is responsible for ensuring equal treatment under the law – especially for the agencies it licenses and regulates.
The real tragedy in this decision is that more than 7,000 children in Virginia are awaiting adoption or are in foster care. The ruling by the Social Services Board only serves to eliminate prospective parents and care givers by allowing agencies to turn them away because they are Jewish, Muslim, Democrats, Republicans, gay, straight, old or young. It is these children who suffer in what the state of Virginia would have us call “religious freedom.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.