Virginia is poised to become the second state to protect private adoption agencies from having to place children with gay couples.
The state Senate passed legislation giving those agencies the right to deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs.
The House of Delegates passed the bill earlier this week and Gov. Bob McDonnell said he'll sign it.
State Sen. Jeff McWaters, R-Virginia Beach, said the law will protect dozens of agencies that contract with the state.
"This is completely consistent with state and federal law," McWaters said. "It does not change who can or cannot adopt a child."
The Family Foundation of Virginia, which lobbied for the legislation, praised the state Senate's action.
"The passage of conscience protection for private child placement agencies by a bipartisan majority in the Senate is a tremendous victory for religious liberty and for the thousands of children and families around Virginia that are served by these agencies," Victoria Cobb, the foundation's president, said in a written statement.
If either the House or the Senate approves the other chamber's bill unchanged, it will go to the governor.
If either chamber amends the bill, which appears unlikely, it could be sent to conference committee to resolve the differences.