RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, March 12, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Virginia bill set to become law will protect the right of faith-based adoption agencies in the state to limit adoption placements to heterosexual couples.

The bill, which cleared the Virginia Senate last Friday by a vote of 22-18, allows private adoption agencies to refuse to participate in adoptions that “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” It also protects the agencies from being denied government licensure, funds, or contracts based on that refusal.

An identical bill had passed the state’s House of Delegates early last month, by a vote of 71-to-28. All House Republicans and three Democrats supported the measure.

Now that the bill has been approved by both chambers, it will head to desk of Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who is expected to sign the legislation.

Roman Catholic Church officials have supported the move because of previous threats to the state’s faith-based adoption agencies posed by anti-discrimination provisions added under the administration of Democratic Governor Timothy Kaine. Kaine added same-sex behavior to Virginia’s anti-discrimination laws by executive order in 2009. He is currently running for the state’s U.S. Senate seat.

Kaine’s revision became the center of public controversy last year, when the Virginia Board of the Department of Social Services was considering a proposed change in adoption regulations that would have forced faith-based agencies to abide by the anti-discrimination regulation in their placement of children for adoption.

Under protest from the Virginia Catholic Conference and Virginia Catholic Charities, the Board eventually ruled against the change.

The current law takes last year’s decision a step further, legally authorizing the rejection of adoptive parents on the basis of sexual orientation and providing protection from liability for the agency.

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According to Senator Jeff McWaters, a Republican who favors the bill, the law “codifies and clarifies what we now call the status quo,” reports Metro Weekly.

State Senator Adam Ebbin, an openly gay Democrat, called the bill “an all-out effort to stop LGBT people from adopting children,” according to the news service.

Sen. Ebbin also said he thought it would lead to future legislation that would do “directly what this bill does indirectly,” by imposing a state-wide ban on homosexual adoption.