Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If the Children Really Are Our Future, Shouldn't We Care?

The slogan goes, "Virginia is for Lovers." Yet once again, the Commonwealth's elected officials have demonstrated they're only interested in one kind of lover, the heterosexual kind, as they consider additional ways to discriminate against gay couples.

Currently, the state only allows married couples and single individuals (regardless of sexual orientation) to adopt a child. Gay and lesbian couples are excluded because same-sex marriage is illegal in Virginia. However, when the Virginia Department of Social Services indicated it was considering altering the policy to prohibit private adoption agencies from discrimination based on sexual orientation, disability or family status (a recommendation former Governor Kaine made before leaving office), McDonnell quickly—yet not surprisingly—announced his opposition to the proposal.

According to The Washington Post, McDonnell said, "I know I had said during the campaign that I would essentially keep our adoption laws—which I think are good—the way they are now. I think the current regulations that are in place seem to be working well."

The proposal also would mandate that gay singles and unmarried couples be able to access faith-based groups, such as Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services, to adopt children.

"I don’t think we ought to force Catholic Charities to make that part of their policy or other similar situated groups," McDonnell said. "Many of our adoption agencies are faith-based groups that ought to be able to establish what their own policies are. Current regulations that say you can’t discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin I think are proper. I think previous efforts to expand that to a number of other classes are going to have very strict scrutiny to make sure that we don’t inhibit the very fine work some faith-based organizations are doing."

McDonnell has until April 16 to formally reject or approve the proposal. But the move to continue disallowing gay couples to adopt has support from many Virginia lawmakers who represent the more conservative areas in the state.

On a televised discussion earlier today, anti-gay Delegate Robert G. Marshall, a Republican from Prince William County, said he opposed gay and lesbian couples raising children because the behavior of the parents is "an example to children, it should be a good behavior" and added that the behavior is "a violation of a 6,000-year-old moral code." (Marshall, following the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, proposed a bill that would continue prohibiting openly gay soldiers from serving in Virginia's National Guard, but that proposal was rejected.)

Ellen Kahn with the Human Rights Campaign debated Marshall, replying to his criticism in this way: "Who you love is not a problem in terms of providing a good, stable, loving family to children and 30 years of social science research backs that up. You may not like the idea of children being raised by families other than a married mother and father but there is no evidence, there's no real basis for that other than you don't like it. Children do fine in a family where they have one or two parents who love them, who nurture them, who support them. And if you want to look a child in the eye who has been in group homes for three years or 10 foster families and say sorry you have to wait another year because we're waiting for a perfect married couple to come along, well then shame on you, because these children need a family."

As of September 2010, there were nearly half a million children in foster care in the US. Countless more children are living in situations of abuse and neglect. Yet McDonnell, Marshall and so many other conservative lawmakers and religious figures want people to believe that these children would be worse off if raised by a same-sex couple.

Why are our political figures allowed to exercise their moral opinions when determining who deserves equality? Why are these so-called "family-friendly" people so quick to sacrifice the well-being of children in need to keep their bigotry and hatred in place?

Why are people willing to deny children the opportunity to be raised by people who are willing to give them love and all they can? Is hatred more important?

If the children really are our future, why would we want them to live lives of neglect, abuse and no strong personal connections instead of having a loving parent or parents?

These things I just don't understand...

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