It's a tremendous victory for religious liberty.
Last week, we told you about a proposed regulation by the Virginia Department of Social Services that would force faith-based adoption placement agencies to either violate the tenets of their faith or forfeit their licenses.
The proposed regulation would prohibit Virginia adoption agencies from making decisions regarding prospective parents on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, or family status.
We submitted our concerns to the agency - outlining the legal and public policy flaws with the proposed regulation. Our public comment, posted here, was clear: the proposed regulation would jeopardize the best interests of children in pursuit of a political agenda by forcing religiously affiliated adoption agencies to close their doors or compromise their standards and principles. The regulation is entirely unnecessary, as married couples or individuals desiring to adopt a child have ample opportunity to do so without any need to trample upon the religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies.
Now, some great news to report. After overwhelming opposition from us and others, the state agency has now issued a memo reversing itself - removing the discriminatory language that posed such a problem. The agency also reported it has received 1,026 public comments opposed to the language - noting that opposition to the proposed regulation outpaced support for it by a margin of more than 30-to-1.
This new version now winds its way through the administrative process in state government before becoming final. We're delighted that both Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli expressed their concerns about this discriminatory language from the very start and announced their opposition to the changes.
With the problematic language now stricken, we're very pleased that the Commonwealth of Virginia's adoption regulations now protect religious freedom.