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The Utah judge who last week ordered that a foster child be taken away from a lesbian couple, then reversed his decision, is now off the case.
"Seventh District Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen signed an order Monday referring all pending matters in the case to the presiding judge of the district, Judge Mary Manley," The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Johansen had filed an order last Tuesday saying that the 9-month-old girl should be removed from the home of married couple April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce of Carbon County, because "it is not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples." The women immediately planned to appeal, but Friday, Johansen struck that line from his order, along with another one saying the child should be placed with a heterosexual couple and a requirement that the child be moved within a week. He did, however, continue to question the appropriateness of parenting by same-sex couples, and another hearing in the case was set for December 4.
Johansen disqualified himself from the case just as many people were calling for sanctions against him. There are at least two petitions on Change.org urging his impeachment by the Utah legislature, and the Human Rights Campaign has filed a complaint with the state's Judicial Conduct Commission seeking an investigation into his conduct. He has been reprimanded by the commission for "demeaning the judicial office" on other occasions. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert were also among those criticizing his attempt to remove the child from Hoagland and Peirce's home.
Hoagland and Peirce have been planning to adopt the child, and they have the support of the girl's birth mother and state-appointed attorney as well as the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. There have been no allegations of neglect or wrongdoing on the part of the couple. With Johansen's move today, it is uncertain whether there will still be a hearing December 4, the Tribune notes.
"We are thankful that Judge Johansen has decided to step aside," the couple said in a statement released through LGBT group Equality Utah. "Our greatest concern now is taking care of our beautiful baby foster daughter. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from people all across the nation. We are grateful that our family is now being treated equally under the law."