A Utah court judge, Scott Johansen, ruled to take away a baby from from lesbian foster parents and instead be placed with a heterosexual couple, claiming it was for the child's wellbeing.
The ruling involved April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, who were looking after a baby girl for three months. The couple reported that they were hurt and distraught from the result of the ruling. The couple also mentioned that Johansen cited research stating that children "do better" when raised by heterosexual couples. However, Johansen did not provide any specific studies of that research in court. Hoagland believes that the judge imposed his religious beliefs and that was a factor in his ruling. "We are shattered," she said. "It hurts me really badly because I haven't done anything wrong." Hoagland also states that the mother allowed them to adopt and had asked them so do, so the ruling was unfair. Peirce also added that "We have a lot of support." "DCFS wants us to have the child, the Guardian Ad Litem wants us to have the child, the mother wants us to have the child, so the only thing standing in the way is the judge."
A full transcript of Judge Johansen's ruling is unavailable because court cases involving foster children are kept private to protect the children.
The attorneys hired to represent the child are from the Utah Divisions of Child and Family Services (DCFS) and the Guardian Ad Litem Office. They plan to review the decision and possibly challenge it, stating that Utah law does not prohibit same-sex couples from becoming foster parents.
This ruling triggered controversy in response. Human Rights Watch stated:
"Removing a child from a loving home simply because the parents are LGBT is outrageous, shocking, and unjust. It also flies in the face of overwhelming evidence that children being raised by same-sex parents are just as healthy and well-adjusted as those with different-sex parents. At a time when so many children in foster care need loving homes, it is sickening to think that a child would be taken from caring parents who planned to adopt."
What do you think about the judge's decision? Does he have the power as a judge to make this order? If he was motivated by his religious beliefs, then is that an acceptable factor when making decisions? Why or why not? Should the couple file a lawsuit?
Salt Lake Tribune, Human Rights Campaign, LA Times, Photo