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Utah Judge Reverses His Prior Order, Allowing Child to Stay With Lesbian Foster Parents

But the judge's revised order, issued today, still maintained that "research has shown that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home."

by VICE News
Nov 13 2015, 10:55pm

Photo via Flickr

The Utah judge who ordered that a foster child be removed from the home of a same-sex couple earlier this week changed his mind on Friday, allowing the baby to stay with her foster parents.

Judge Scott Johanson said on Tuesday that the one-year-old girl must be removed from the home of April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, because "it is not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples," and ordered her to be placed in the care of a straight couple within one week.

On Thursday, Utah's Division of Child and Family Services said they would fight the judge's order, with Hoagland and Peirce also filing motions against the judge. 

But the judge's revised order, issued today, still maintained that "research has shown that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home," and a hearing is set for December 4.

Johanson's statement on "research" is not supported by science; many studies show that the sexual orientation of same-sex parents has no effect on the well-being of a child.

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Notably, the American Psychological Association said in 2004 that "there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation." Lesbian and gay parents are just as likely, or perhaps unlikely, as heterosexual parents to "provide supportive and healthy environments for their children," according to the APA.

Judge Johanson's order quickly provoked condemnation, including from Hillary Clinton and Utah's Republican governor Gary Herbert. The judge "may not like the law, but he should follow the law," Herbert told reporters on Thursday. "We don't want to have activism on the bench in any way, shape or form," and added that the judge should not "inject his own personal beliefs and feelings in superseding the law."

After receiving the order on Tuesday, Hoagland told KUTV, "We are shattered."

"It hurts me really badly because I haven't done anything wrong," she added.

Peirce and Hoagland were married last fall and shortly thereafter they decided to become foster parents. Doing so became possible after last year's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, and they began fostering a one-year-old child in August. They were soon preparing to adopt the child with her biological mother's blessing.

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Utah's Department of Child and Family Services approved the couple, who are already raising Hoagland's two biological children, to be foster parents earlier this year. There is no law in Utah that takes the sexual orientation into consideration when determining approval for foster parents.

This is not the first time Judge Johanson has been mired in controversy for odd and potentially illegal forms of punishment. In 1997, he slapped a 16-year-old boy in his courthouse, and in 2012 he told the mother of a 13-year-old girl that he would shorten her daughter's sentence if she cut off the girl's ponytail in public court. 

Photo via Flickr