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Tim Kaine’s position on state adoption laws was well known when he was elected governor in 2005.
Kaine, then lieutenant governor, said he favored the laws on the book, which allowed both heterosexual married couples and single people -- regardless of sexual orientation -- to adopt.
The Democrat said he didn’t think unmarried couples, gay or straight, should be allowed to adopt. His opponent, Republican Jerry Kilgore, opposed any adoption by homosexual individuals.
Kaine said then the best interest of a child should always be the ultimate consideration in adoption cases. He said adoption by unmarried couples was a bad idea because of possible disputes over the child "if the relationship breaks up."
His position backed a state policy that eliminates gay couples from adopting because Virginia has never recognized same-sex marriages. Kaine said in 2005 that he did not support civil unions between homosexuals.
Let’s flash forward to 2011. In April, Kaine announced his 2012 candidacy for the U.S. Senate and the state’s Board of Social Services rejected a measure that would have banned private adoption groups, such as religious charities, from discriminating against prospective parents on the basis of sexual orientation.
In mid-May, Kaine told The Washington Post that he still thinks all adoption decisions should be made in a child’s best interest. But he said if a judge thinks adoption by an unmarried couple -- gay or straight -- meets that standard, then the couple should be allowed to complete the adoption.
"I think the best interest of the child is a pretty hard standard to argue with and I think that ought to be the standard,’’ said Kaine, the former governor who is now a candidate in the Democratic Senate primary.
Brandi Hoffine, Kaine’s campaign press secretary, told us her boss’s stance really hasn’t changed.
"Governor Kaine's position has always been that judges should be empowered to do whatever is in the best interest of the child," she said.
Kaine’s overall position may not have changed, but the details have. He now thinks judges should be empowered to allow unmarried couples to adopt children. In 2005, he opposed letting unmarried couples to adopt.
Kaine has stopped short of urging the General Assembly to revamp laws so that unmarried couples could adopt. And his campaign for the U.S. Senate next year promises to focus on federal issues -- not state adoption laws, which he would have no control over if he is elected.
But Kaine’s position has evolved. We rate this a Half Flip.
The Washington Post, Kaine: Gay couples should be allowed to adopt, May 18, 2011.
Richmond Times-Dispatch, McDonnell backs adoption by single gays, but not unwed couples, April 26, 2011.
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Anti-gay bias ban stripped from proposed adoption rules, April 21, 2011.
The Roanoke Times, Social issues could determine outcome, Oct. 2, 2005.
The Washington Post, Kaine-Kilgore race will be waged on GOP’s chosen turf, March 1, 2005.
E-mail interview with Brandi Hoffine, spokeswoman, Kaine for Virginia, May 20, 2011.
E-mail interview with Matthew Cobb, Deputy secretary for health and human resources, May 24, 2011.
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