- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 5, 2005

RICHMOND — House members gave preliminary approval yesterday to a measure that would require state officials to ask applicants in adoption screenings whether they are homosexual.

Democrats during a brief floor debate called the measure “absurd” and “misguided” and said it would deprive needy children of loving parents.

Lawmakers passed the bill on a voice vote and will take a final vote tomorrow. The bill also must pass the Senate later this month.

Delegate Richard H. Black said his bill would require state officials, during a standard background check, to report to the court whether the applicant is “currently engaged in voluntary homosexual activity.”

Mr. Black, a Loudoun Republican, said children “deserve the greatest opportunity to experience the natural love of a mother and father” and that his bill just tightens existing law and state tradition.

“In these politically correct times, I think it helps to make the law very, very explicit,” he said.

Delegate Robert H. Brink, Arlington Democrat, challenged Mr. Black’s bill.

He asked if an investigator would check the applicant’s compact-disc collection to see whether it included “mostly show tunes or includes a Judy Garland box set.” His colleagues laughed.

“This bill is another attempt to marginalize, stigmatize and demonize folks, fellow Virginians, who happen to be gay,” Mr. Brink said. “It has nothing to do with what should be the bedrock principle of adoption — to give a kid a chance to grow up in a loving, caring environment.” Delegate Adam P. Ebbin, the legislature’s only openly homosexual member, also opposed the measure.

“This legislation moves our investigators into the bedroom and turns them into the new sex police,” said Mr. Ebbin, an Alexandria Democrat. He also said he does not have a Judy Garland box set.

He said the “sex police” would not check if applicants were committing adultery or were promiscuous.

“This bill has nothing to do with the best interests of the child, which should be paramount in any adoption,” Mr. Ebbin said. “The spirit of this legislation … is to weed out gay people from adopting and denying kids a loving home, if the parents happen to be gay.”

Charles Ingram, spokesman for the state Department of Social Services, said Virginia’s existing adoption law “does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”

He also said the law states married couples or unmarried individuals are permitted to adopt. No state has a blanket ban on forbidding homosexuals from adopting.

Mr. Black originally proposed such a blanket ban, but it was amended to its present form in committee.

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