Saturday, January 24, 2015

Virginia Republicans Kill Second Parent Adoption Bill

Now that gays can marry in Virginia presumably married gay couples can adopt in the same manner as heterosexual married couples.  But, there are instances where gays - just like many widowed senior citizens - cannot marry without losing benefits they are otherwise entitled to.  To address this situation, Democrat Senator Janet Howell, who I have the good fortune to know, introduced a bill that would have allowed an unmarried partner to adopt the other partner's children.  The goal?  To afford children of such couples as much legal security as possible.  The response of the Virginia GOP - which disingenuously claims to care about children?  The bill was killed in a straight party line vote, with Republicans no doubt following the orders of Victoria Cobb and the Christofascists at The Family Foundation.  Here's the vote breakdown: 

YEAS--Puller, Locke, Barker, Favola, Wexton, Deeds, Petersen--7.
NAYS--Wagner, Hanger, McDougle, Norment, Black, Reeves, McWaters, Chafin--8.

The Virginian Pilot has more details.  Here are highlights:
A proposal to allow adoption by the partners of unmarried gay parents was rejected Friday by a Virginia Senate committee.

Thanks to a series of federal court decisions last year, same-sex couples now have the right to marry in Virginia. But some choose not to do so, and Sen. Janet Howell's measure would have accommodated such couples by allowing someone other than the spouse of a parent to adopt a child.

Howell, a Fairfax County Democrat, said children in such circumstances deserve the security and protection of two legal parents.

Adoption opens the door to additional health care options and other financial benefits, she said, and ensures that a child will still have a parent in the event of the biological parent's death.

Virginia doesn't require opposite-sex parents to marry in order for both to have legal rights to their children, but that's not true for same-sex parents, Howell said.

"We need to level the playing field," she said. "The world has shifted, but some children have been left behind."

The Republican-controlled Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee defeated the measure on a party-line 8-7 vote.
As the Washington Blade notes, Equality Virginia board member Catherine Read summed things up well:

“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.”
It is disappointing that even Sen. Frank Wagner who I have known for over 20 years voted with the gay-haters.

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