We are pleased to announce that the Virginia General Assembly passed a law protecting the rights of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies. Senate Bill 349, proposed by Sen. Jeffery McWaters (R-Virginia Beach), passed the Virginia Senate this afternoon by a bipartisan 22-18 vote! An identical companion bill, House Bill 189, proposed by Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) passed the House of Delegates 71-28 on February 3rd. The legislation now goes to the desk of Governor Bob McDonnell (R), who pledged to sign it.
This law protects the rights of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies, like America World, to continue serving children according to their religious and moral convictions. As a result, it prevents the state from discriminating against these agencies in licensing and contract decisions. Virginia is only the second state in the U.S. (behind North Dakota) to recognize and protect the rights of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies.
Over the past year, America World staff worked alongside a coalition of faith-based agencies to craft and support this important piece of legislation. We would like to thank our partners in this effort, including Catholic Charities, The Family Foundation, the Virginia Catholic Conference, and the Virginia Association of Independent Baptists.
Finally, we would like to thank those of you who called and wrote to members of the Virginia General Assembly to urge them to support this legislation. This great victory for religious liberty would not have been possible without you.