Richmond City Council Declares June LGBT Pride Month

On Tuesday, May 28, Richmond City Council issued a proclamation to the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community recognizing June as LGBT Pride Month. Council members Charles Samuels and Parker Agelasto sponsored the recognition.

“I am proud to sponsor the Richmond City Council Official Proclamation establishing the month of June as Richmond Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month for the third year in a row,” Samuels said.

Richmond City Council issued this proclamation to coincide with National LGBT Pride Month celebrated in June of each year.

“We should all take pride in our city government working with the LGBT community to make Richmond a better place to live,” said Bill Harrison, president of the Richmond Gay Community Foundation. “Recognizing the entire spectrum of the city’s diversity will help us continue to move forward.”

Is your local government recognizing the LGBT community during National LGBT Pride Month?  Let Equality Virginia know.  E-mail [email protected]

ACLU of Virginia and Equality Virginia Urge Gov. McDonnell to End Adoption and Foster Care Discrimination

Ask Governor to consider LGBT community in “Virginia Adopts” campaign.

Richmond, VA – This week, the ACLU of Virginia and Equality Virginia asked Governor McDonnell to ensure that the best interests of children inform his “Virginia Adopts” Campaign and that all families are considered and included in his goals to raise awareness about the foster care and adoption process.  

“We agree with Governor McDonnell’s statement in the Campaign for 1000 video that every child deserves the security and love a family provides” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia.  “However, his administration’s actions have continually put the special interests of certain agencies ahead of the best interests of all children in need of a loving family in Virginia.  Denying willing families makes no sense when the state itself admits it has more than 4,000 children in the foster care system.”

“There are willing prospective parents in Virginia that continue to be denied the opportunity to adopt or foster children and thousands of children who will continue to be denied loving homes as a result,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga.  “If the governor is serious about his goal to change 1,000 lives in 2013 through this campaign, he cannot afford to leave out any eligible prospective families.”

Gastañaga added, “According to the Virginia Department of Social Services’ own website, Virginia leads the nation in the percentage of children who age out of foster care (almost a third) and the average time that children spend in foster care before they find a forever home is the second longest in the nation (more than 18 months).  Every child deserves a safe and loving home.  No child should be left homeless due to discrimination. No devoted prospective parent should be turned away because of prejudice. The only factor that should guide placement of children in foster care or adoptive homes is the best interest of the child.”

Currently, there is no law prohibiting adoption or foster care by any single adult where such would serve the best interests of the child.  Virginia does not allow two people to adopt the same child, however, unless they are a man and a woman who are legally married to each other.   Add to this that, in 2012, the legislature authorized private adoption and foster care agencies that are funded with tax dollars to screen and reject potential foster or adoptive parents and children in need of such services based on the agency’s religious beliefs and/or moral principles. This allows state-sanctioned and state-funded discrimination against potential LGBT parents and children, and authorizes discrimination against others based on factors such as age, disability, or religion.  This new law does not apply to foster care or adoption services provided directly by local social services agencies.  Because they are public entities, the law doesn’t apply and these agencies are constitutionally prohibited from applying a religious litmus test to any decision.

A copy of the letter can be found online at: https://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/2013-05-15ltrgovadoption.pdf

About ACLU of Virginia

The ACLU of Virginia is a private, non-profit organization that promotes civil liberties and civil rights for everyone in the Commonwealth through public education, litigation, and advocacy with the goal of securing freedom and equality for all.  More information is online at acluva.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/acluofvirginia or Twitter @ACLUVA.

About Equality Virginia

Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.  Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Shuts Out Thousands of Prospective Parents

Governor’s “Campaign for 1000” Lands One Year After Virginia Shuts Out Thousands of Prospective Parents

Washington – (May 10, 2013) -Family Equality Council and Equality Virginia today issued an open invitation to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to assist in finding adoptive parents for youth in the Virginia foster care system – by reversing their recently enacted policy that allows adoption agents to discriminate.

McDonnell’s “Campaign for 1000” aims to identify 1,000 adults seeking to adopt young people out of the foster care system in Virginia.

“I would say this is a joke, but nobody is laughing,” said Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy for Family Equality Council. “Virginia is the worst in the country in placing children out of foster care. For the Governor to launch this campaign little more than a year after locking thousands of doors to Virginia’s foster youth is outlandish.”

“Every child deserves the security and love that a family provides,” McDonnell is quoted as saying in a video announcing the “Campaign for 1000”.

“We agree with Governor McDonnell,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia.  “However his administration’s actions have continually put the special interests of certain agencies ahead of the best interests of all children in need of a loving family in Virginia. Denying willing families makes no sense when the state itself admits it has more than 4,000 children in the foster care system.”

Virginia currently has one of the lowest rates of public agency adoptions in the nation and cites the need to identify “A supply of parents who are ready to adopt” as one of the significant factors affecting adoption rates in the state.  It was Governor McDonnell who, just last year, signed legislation into law that actually reduced the number of qualified and loving families available and ready to adopt when he signed into law a “conscience clause,” which allows adoption agencies to refuse placements with any families based on religious or moral beliefs.

On Tuesday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced the introduction of the Every Child Deserves A Family Act which would eliminate discriminatory laws like the law in Virginia which allows agencies to discriminate. More information on the bill can be found at www.familyequality.org/everychild

Family Equality Council connects, supports and represents three million parents who are LGBT and their six million children. We work to change attitudes and policies across the country to ensure all families are respected, loved, and celebrated. For 30 years, our community has stood together to raise our children and raise our voices toward fairness for all. To learn more, please visit www.familyequality.org.

Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.  Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.