The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Potts comes out in favor of same-sex adoption; A1

Move could pull in support from left

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WINCHESTER — He’s the only one in the race without a major party. He’s also the only one in the race in favor of allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.

In an interview last week with The Associated Press, state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, said he supports adoption by homosexual couples.

“We’re all God’s children,” Potts said. “I don’t think that they ought to be precluded from adopting a child.”
Potts told reporters that mistreatment of homosexuals has bothered him his entire life.

“I can’t imagine that a gay person gets to the pearly gates of heaven and this loving, benevolent God is going to deny that person a place in his kingdom because he or she is gay.”

Potts’ position statement was welcome news to some of the state’s gay and lesbian advocates.

“We were very pleased … that [Potts] has taken such a position,” said Dyana Mason, executive director of Equality Virginia, a gay, lesbian and transgender advocacy group.

“All our families want is to be treated equally under the law,” she said.

But it’s too soon to say if that will be enough to get Equality Virginia’s membership to cast a ballot for the independent, Mason said.

“I think the election is just heating up, so it’s really hard to tell if this specific issue is going to motivate people,” she said.

The voters most likely to agree with Potts’ position tend to be Democratic, according to Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

“You never know whether it’s intentional or if Russ was just expressing his point of view,” Sabato said. For all the talk of Potts pulling away Republican support, Sabato added, positions like this one may draw some Democrats to the Winchester senator.

“It just underlines the fact that both candidates have to be worried about the voters that Potts would take out of their column,” he said.

Neither of the two major party candidates in the race support adoption by same-sex couples.

Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore “is opposed to gay adoption by either couples or individuals,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the GOP hopeful.

“He supports recognized state policy, that the best situation for a child is with a mother and a father,” he said.

Democratic contender Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine thinks the state’s laws are just fine the way they are, said spokeswoman Delacey Skinner.

“The way that the current adoption laws work is the right balance, because the focus really is on the best interest of the child,” she said. “Current adoption laws don’t allow anyone who is an unmarried couple to adopt children.”

But Kaine has also opposed legislation that would put more roadblocks in the way of homosexual adoptions, she said.

For example, a bill during the last General Assembly session would have required courts to consider whether a potential adoptive parent was homosexual or living with a partner out of wedlock.

The bill would have essentially banned any homosexual adoption. It passed the House of Delegates 71-24, but died in the Senate’s Courts of Justice committee.

Skinner said Kaine thought the legislation was “mean spirited” and would very likely veto any similar legislation sent to him as governor.

“It does not really reflect this idea of looking at the best interest of the child,” she said.

Kaine’s campaign wouldn’t comment on the potential impact of Potts’ announcement on their base, but other Democrats were quick to point out the Winchester Republican’s support for 2004’s Affirmation of Marriage Act, which banned any form of recognition for civil unions and other same-sex unions.

Potts’ campaign didn’t return calls for comment Monday.

Potts voted for the bill no fewer than four times as it made its way into the code of Virginia, over the objections of Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner.

“He’s more of a cafeteria selection,” Sabato said. “You can probably find something to like in Potts whether you’re a liberal, a moderate or a conservative.”