Virginia House passes gay adoption bill

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia House of Delegates has passed legislation that would allow private adoption agencies to deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, including opposition to homosexuality.

Without debate, the House voted 71-28 to pass the bill measure Friday.

Earlier in the day, a Senate committee endorsed its version of the Republican-backed measure on an 8-7 party-line vote.

Republican Del. Todd Gilbert of Woodstock says his bill protects religious freedom.

Opponents argue that the government, which contracts with dozens of private, state-licensed child placement agencies, should not sanction discrimination.

The Virginia Board of Social Services in December adopted regulations allowing discrimination by private agencies based on personal factors, including gender, age, religion disability, sexual orientation and family status. Gilbert's bill would convert those regulations into state law.