VIRGINIA

Virginia Senate votes to pass gay adoption discrimination

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(WJLA, AP) - A last minute effort to soften legislation concerning gay adoption in Virginia failed Wednesday.

Virginia Senate votes to pass gay adoption discrimination

Under the approved bill, private adoption agencies can prevent an adoption because of the parents' religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

The Senate voted 22-18 Tuesday to pass legislation allowing private agencies to deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, including opposition to homosexuality. The House had already passed the bill, which only needs Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's signature to take effect July 1.

North Dakota is the only other state with such a law.

Democrats Charles Colgan and Phillip Puckett joined all 20 Senate Republicans in voting for the so-called "conscience clause" legislation.

Proponents say the measure protects the religious rights of agencies that contract with the state to provide child placement services. Opponents say the state should not sanction discrimination and that it will ruin some residents' plans to build a family.

Daniel Gri considers himself to be like any other Virginian. A conservative Republican who prays and sits down to dinner with his spouse and two kids every night.

But as a gay man he said he realizes soon he won't be able to do what many others can--expand his family.

"As a gay married couple here in Virginia, it would be a much better feeling for us if we knew that we'd be able to adopt here in Virginia," Gri said.

Gri and his partner adopted their two children in California years ago before moving to Virginia. They're contemplating adopting another child within the next two years.

"Honestly right now in Virginia we would not adopt in Virginia because these laws that have been passed are so extreme and against gay people adopting," Gri said.

The State has 77 private agencies, 16 of which are faith-based.

Supporters say the new bill, which the governor is expected to sign soon, will protect religious freedom.

But with nearly 1600 children in Virginia waiting to be adopted, many say it's the kids who will lose out in the end.

"This is a bad thing for the kids here," Gri said. "There are a lot of kids here in Virginia waiting to be adopted and probably now reduced the number of kids who'll be able to adopt here in Virginia."

The Virginia Catholic Conference released a statement saying the passage of the bill safeguards religious liberty.

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