RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A House of Delegates committee has advanced legislation that would allow private, faith-based child placement agencies to discriminate against prospective parents based on their sexual orientation.
The Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee voted 14-5 to send Delegate Todd Gilbert's bill to the House floor.
Gilbert's bill allows private organizations to deny placement if it would violate their religious beliefs, including opposition to homosexuality. The so-called "conscience clause" bill would solidify regulations recently adopted by the Virginia Board of Social Services.
Gilbert, a Republican from Woodstock, Va., said his legislation protects religious freedom.
Opponents argued that the state should not sanction discrimination based on sexual orientation. Democratic Delegate Joe Morrissey of Richmond called the bill hurtful, mean-spirited and un-Christian.