The Utah judge who this week stunned a same-sex couple by removing a foster child from their home today reversed his decision, reports The New York Times.
Judge Scott N. Johansen of Utah's Juvenile Court amended his order, initially filed Tuesday, which stated that "it is not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples." Johansen struck that scientifically inaccurate line or reasoning from his decision, along with one ordering the child to be placed with a heterosexual couple.
But while the 9-month-old girl can stay with the married women until at least the next hearing on "the best interests of the child," scheduled for December 4, the couple's fight to maintain custody over the child they planned to adopt is far from over, notes the Times.
While the judge removed the scientifically inaccurate claim that "it is not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples," his new order still notes the court's "concern that research has shown that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home."
April Hoagland and Beckie Pierce, who legally married in October 2014, have cared for the child for the past three months in their home in Pierce, Utah. They were planning to legally adopt the girl, with the support of the child's birth mother, the child's state-appointed attorney, and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. There were no allegations of neglect or wrongdoing on the part of the foster parents, and even Utah's Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said he was "confused" about why Judge Johansen had ordered the child removed from the home.
Judge Johansen, who The Salt Lake Tribune reported has repeatedly been reprimanded by the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission for "demeaning the judicial office," claimed to have research proving children are better off when raised by heterosexual parents. In reality, all credible major studies show that a parent's sexual orientation has no effect on a child's social development and mental health.
The Human Rights Campaign has called for an investigation into Judge Johansen's conduct, sending a letter Friday to the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission, noting the national LGBT group is "deeply concerned by reports that Judge Johansen ordered the removal of a minor child from the home of foster parents April Hoagland and Beckie Pierce of Carbon County explicitly citing their sexual orientation as the driving factor behind his decision.
"Removing this child from a loving and permanent home based solely on the sexual orientation of its parents is not only discriminatory, but is also counter to the overwhelming evidence that children being raised by same-sex parents are just as healthy and well-adjusted as those with different-sex parents," said HRC's legal director Sarah Warbelow in a statement Friday. "It is unconscionable that any judge would let bias interfere with determining the true best interest of a child and we strongly encourage the commission to take appropriate action to hold this Judge accountable and to affirm that personal bias has no place in judicial decisions in Utah."
This story is developing. Check back for updates.