RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia Senate committee has rejected a proposal to provide adoption rights to unmarried gay couples.

Thanks to a series of federal court decisions last year, same-sex couples now have the right to marry in Virginia. But some choose not to do so, and Sen. Janet Howell's measure would have accommodated such couples by allowing someone other than the spouse of a parent to adopt a child.

Howell, a Fairfax County Democrat, said children in such circumstances deserve the security and protection of two legal parents.

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration supported Howell's bill. But conservative groups opposed it, saying unmarried couples are unstable.

The Republican-controlled Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee defeated the measure Friday on a party-line 8-7 vote.