Utah judge removes himself from case after taking foster child from lesbians
A Utah judge who caused massive controversy by removing a foster child from a lesbian couple’s home has removed himself from the case.
The court reversed the decision on Friday after Utah officials said they would fight the decision in appeals court.
The mandate from 7th District Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen was crossed out.
Now Johansen has disqualified himself from the case and referred it to the court’s presiding judge Mary Manley.
“We are thankful that Judge Johansen has decided to step aside. Our greatest concern now is taking care of our beautiful baby foster daughter,” Peirce and Hoagland said in a statement sent to Equality Utah on Monday.
The original ruling read: “The court believes that it is not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples.”
Now the 9-month old child will be left in custody of the state, while the biological mother’s parental rights are terminated.
The next step may be that the child remains with the couple.
Another hearing will take place on 4 December, and the couple hope to adopt the child.
The Division of Child and Family Services on Thursday said in a statement that officials would fight the decision if Judge Scott Johansen does not rescind his decision.
Utah officials said the judge had gone against recommendations that the 9-month-old child should stay with the couple.
April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce – from Utah – are married with two children. The pair had also been hoping to adopt the one-year-old girl they had been fostering for three months.
However, the judge had ordered the Department of Child and Family Services to remove the child from their care within seven days.
Judge Scott Johansen claimed various studies suggested children are better off being raised in a heterosexual households – but they feel the judge used the questionable evidence to force his religious beliefs upon them.
The couple say they are devastated by the ruling, especially as they have not done anything legally wrong.
“We are shattered,” Ms Hoagland told KUTV. “It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Ms Peirce echoed her wife’s sentiments, highlighting the fact that the judge had made his decision based on prejudice.
“He’s never been in our home, never spent time with the child in our home or our other children so he doesn’t know anything about this,” she added.
LGBT activists have rejected the decision, noting that recent studies prove that sexuality has no negative impact on a couple’s ability to raise a child – in fact, the opposite is often true.