Judge Scott Johansen ordered that a baby placed in the foster care of April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, a married couple in Price, Utah, be removed from their home and placed with a heterosexual couple.
The backlash against Johansen was immediate and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services has amended his order so the 9-month-old baby in question won’t be removed from the home next week, CBS News reported. However, the child could be removed after a Dec. 4 custody hearing.
According to Ashley Sumner, spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, welfare officials are working to keep the family together. In his decision, Johansen cited research that claimed children are better off when raised by heterosexual caretakers, but the American Psychological Association has said there's no scientific basis for the conclusion that same-sex couples are less fit to be parents.
Hoagland and Peirce believe the judge made his decision on the basis of his religion -Johansen is a bishop in the Mormon church. According to the New York Times, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently issued a new policy that bars children of same-sex parents from baby-naming ceremonies and baptisms. The policy also declared that Mormons in same-sex marriages are subject to excommunication.
The couple was also supported by the child’s biological mother, who asked Johansen to give the Hoagland and Peirce custody.
"This is all about sexual orientation, not what is best for the child," Peirce said.
"He has no other grounds but that," Hoagland added.
In an interview with Guardian, Utah’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, said Johansen shouldn’t rule on the basis of his beliefs. “He may not like the law, but he should follow the law,” he said. “We don’t want to have activism on the bench in any way, shape or form.”