Family Law

Judge backpedals on controversial order removing foster child from married same-sex couple

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A Utah judge has amended a controversial ruling issued earlier this week. It originally required the state to remove a foster child from the home of a same-sex married couple by Nov. 17 because they are not heterosexual.

On Friday, 7th District Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen said April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce could keep the girl in their home for now and scheduled a Dec. 4 hearing to determine the best interests of the child, according to the New York Times (reg. req.) and the Salt Lake Tribune.

Earlier news accounts said the foster child is a 1-year-old girl, but she is now reported to be 9 months old. She has been in the foster home since August.

Hoagland and Peirce, reportedly with the consent of the girl’s biological mother, have been planning to adopt her. The two spouses are licensed foster parents and no issue has been raised concerning the manner in which they have cared for the baby.

In his Friday amendment of the earlier ruling, Johansen eliminated language stating “it is not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples” and requiring the baby to be removed and placed with a heterosexual couple, the Times reports.

The amended order now says: “The court cited a concern that research has shown that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home.”

The judge’s action Friday followed separate Thursday filings by a lawyer for the married couple and the state’s Division of Child and Family Services.

The couple asked the judge to reverse his original decision and DCFS sought a stay pending an appeal, the Tribune says.

Both adoptions and foster parenting by same-sex couples were not permitted in Utah until a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June found that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.

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