As far as any state is concerned, Beckie Peirce and April Hoagland are model parents. They got married last year in Utah, applied to become foster parents, and recently welcomed a baby girl into their home through the foster system. They’re already raising two biological children, and they were planning to adopt the baby.
But because they’re a same-sex couple, a judge in Utah has demanded their baby be taken away and placed with a heterosexual couple.
Judge Scott Johansen, a juvenile court judge, claims he has research to prove that kids do better with heterosexual parents. Of course, no such legitimate research exists. Studies have shown time and time again that kids raised by same-sex parents are just as happy and healthy as kids from heterosexual parents, and those who claim otherwise have been shown to have flawed research, funding from anti-LGBT groups, or other methodological errors.
That leaves one gross reason for Johansen’s decision, which, by the way, is illegal now that marriage equality has been legalized nationwide:
A copy of the court order by Judge Scott Johansen, a juvenile judge in Utah’s Seventh District, was not immediately available, though the Salt Lake Tribune confirmed its contents. Hoagland told KUTV Johansen said “through his research he had found out that kids in homosexual homes don’t do as well as they do in heterosexual homes.” She added that, when the judge was asked to show the research, he wouldn’t.
“I believe it’s a religious belief,” Peirce said.
This news comes only days after the Mormon Church announced it will not bless the children of same-sex parents until they turn 18 and disavow their parents. And while the judge hasn’t explicitly talked about his faith, his background speaks for itself:
Though there were no reports of his religious affiliation at press time, Johansen went to law school at Brigham Young University, operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon church. The church voted to exclude the children of same-sex couples until they are adults just last week, a decision now facing wide protest from within the church.
“Church handbooks are policy and procedural guides for lay leaders who must administer the church in many varied circumstances throughout the world,” church spokesman Eric Hawkins said of the change. “The church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages. While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.”
The women are rightfully devastated. They have the support of the biological mother, Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services, and the child’s court-appointed representative in adopting the baby. The judge’s faulty claim is the only thing standing in the way. Even the DCFS is confused:
“On the one hand, I’m not going to expect my caseworkers to violate a court order,” Brent Platt, director of the Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), said, “but on the other hand I’m not going to expect my caseworkers to violate the law.”
Hoagland said the decision was “heartbreaking.”
“I was kind of caught off guard because I didn’t think anything like that would happen anymore,” Hoagland told KUTV. “… It’s not fair, and it’s not right, and it hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”
The judge also has a history of inappropriate courtroom behavior, particularly when it comes to women and children. He’s the judge who famously asked a mom to cut off her teenager’s hair in court in exchange for a reduced sentence (the teenager faced assault charges for cutting off a toddler’s hair). He sent a boy to jail for stealing a pack of gum because the boy had “violated his probation” by bringing home a bad report card. He threatened to throw a mother in jail because a school lost the record of her plan to homeschool her children.
“Seventh District Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen has a reliable recipe for turning an underperforming student into a juvenile delinquent, or worse,” the Tribune wrote in 2012. “And, unfortunately, Johansen follows his own recipe far too often when sentencing young offenders.”
Johansen’s exploits even led to the short-lived blog “Judge Scott Johansen is a tyrant” after he challenged home-schoolers in Utah to enroll their kids in class, or possibly lose them to the foster system.
A quick Google search shows that there are between 2,100 and 2,600 foster children in Utah in need of loving homes. Another shows that same-sex couples make perfectly great parents. The “evidence” this judge cites as a reason to tear a family apart, however, is nowhere to be found.
Here are two loving parents opening their home to a child in need. The state only benefits by letting them.
(Image via Facebook)