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On an unrecorded 5 to 4 vote vote, a subcommittee in Virginia’s House of Delegates killed a bill to allow second-parent adoption for children whose parents are not legally married. The bils opponents have taken pains to identify themselves as “pro-family.”
In the heavily-GOP House of Delegates, House Bill 1113 was offered by Delegate Joseph Yost (who earlier this week became the first Republican legislator in the state to endorse marriage equality). It would have allowed for a “a person other than the spouse of a parent” to adopt a child “if the child has only one parent, the adoption would not terminate the parental rights of the parent, and the parent joins in the petition for the purpose of indicating his consent.” This would have given legal protections to thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples in Virginia — a state with a constitutional prohibition on marriages, civil unions, or any other legal status for same-sex couples.
“You can measure the strength of a democracy by the way it treats its children,” Yost told his House colleagues who serve on the Courts of Justice Civil Law Subcommittee. “This vote before you today is not about Democrats, Republicans, gay couples, straight couples. It’s about kids.” But despite his pleas — and those of two Virginia parents whose co-parents are legally strangers to their children, the majority of the subcommittee was unswayed. They instead sided with the bogus claims of a representative from the anti-LGBT Family Foundation, who warned that the bill would represent “sea change” in policy and would open the door “to a lot of situations that are, in social science, proven very, very unstable.” The group claims its aim is to “strengthen families in Virginia.”
With no debate, the committee voted to table the bill without even a recorded vote. Chairman Greg Habeeb (R), voted to kill the bill despite his campaign slogan of “fighting for Roanoke Valley Families” and his boasts of a “pro-family record.” Delegate Ben Chafin (R) joined him, despite his claims of being “a dedicated family man” who “will fight for family values in Richmond,” as did Jeff Campbell (R), whose parents, he claims, “believed in the value of hard work” and instilled in him “the importance of family and community.” Terry Kilgore (R) and family-law attorney Jay Leftwich (R) took the total to five. None of the five responded immediately to ThinkProgress inquiries as to their rationales.
Two committee Republicans, Delegates Manoli Loupassi and Randy Minchew, joined with Democrats David Toscano and Jennifer McClellan in opposing the motion. Democrat Mark Keam, a supporter of LGBT equality, was not present for the vote.
James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, told ThinkProgress, “By denying passage of the second-parent adoption bill, Delegates Habeeb, Kilgore, Leftwich, Chafin, and Campbell are simply denying children across Virginia who are being raised by loving lesbian or gay parents the protection and security that having two legal parents would offer.” He noted that the state “already recognizes both parents in those families that have completed second-parent adoptions in other states,” so the bill simply “would have allowed children in Virginia to establish these same legal ties to their own parents.”
A similar measure died in the state Senate last week. A scheduled hearing in federal court on whether Virginia’s marriage inequality law violates the U.S. constitution was postponed Thursday due to inclement weather in Norfolk, VA.