You're standing in front of your Family and Friends prepared to make your dreams of a lifetime come true. It's at that moment that you are grateful that you have a professional guiding your ceremony. The Supreme Court has finally ruled upon this issue. Now is the time to plan your perfect LGBT Wedding. I have been performing Commitment Ceremonies since the beginning, and I am so pleased this has opened up for everyone to marry the one they Love. Contact Reverend Jacqui Weiks, Your LGBT Wedding Officiant
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Lesbian Foster Moms Struggle to Keep Their Child
In Utah, an ongoing legal battle has erupted between two lesbian foster moms and the state’s legal system following the removal of a foster child from the couple’s home. Even though the lesbian foster moms, Beckie Pierce and April Hoagland, received approval from the state’s child services department to foster and eventually adopt a one-year-old girl, juvenile court judge Scott Johansen ordered the child removed from their home. This set off a firestorm within the LGBT community, especially since the decision was justified through false information and suspected of anti-gay bias.
Lesbian Foster Moms’ Ordeal
The case has been widely publicized since it began in August. In the latest development, the child was returned to the lesbian foster moms’ home, but there may be another hearing to determine if staying with the lesbian moms–who also have two biological children–is in the “best interest” of the child. There’s no indication that Johansen will be removed from the case, however, so the family could be facing an uphill legal battle.
Legal Decision, or Religious Bias?
There has been some speculation that Scott Johansen, who received his law degree from Brigham Young University, made his decision based on religious beliefs, rather than following the law. While this is difficult to prove, Johansen has a less-than-stellar record as a judge, with a judicial conduct committee once reprimanding him for “demeaning the judicial office.” Additionally, many of his previous decisions have gained him a negative reputation:
- Eye for an Eye – In an assault case that revolved around a teenager cutting off a toddler’s hair, Johansen offered a deal with a highly unusual requirement: the defendant’s mother could cut off the teenager’s ponytail to reduce her sentence.
- Jail for Minor – In another case, Johansen sent a young boy to jail for stealing a pack of gum, citing the boy’s poor grades as a reason for the harsh sentence.
- Public or Else – A third case found Johansen threatening the parents of home-schooled children, saying that their kids might be removed and placed in the foster system if they didn’t enroll in Utah public schools.
These controversial–and possibly illegal–decisions aside, Johansen’s rationale for removing Pierce and Hoagland’s foster child is unconscionable: he stated that research indicated that children perform better when raised by heterosexual couples, a claim that is completely unsubstantiated by any accepted research.
Potential Effects on Lesbian Moms Across the Country
With gay marriage legal across the country, lesbian foster moms like Pierce and Hoagland should have no problem fostering and adopting. They approached the process exactly like any other couple would, including going through screening, interviews, and home visits to ensure that the environment would be health for a child. The lesbian foster moms also contacted the child’s biological mother to determine an adoption plan.
According to state agencies, and even the state’s governor, the removal of the child from their home is unusual and possibly illegal. The case may be precedent-setting even beyond the results for this particular family, however, with courts across the country determining the adoption rights of same-sex couples:
- Mississippi – In Mississippi, same-sex couples are currently seeking to strike down the state’s discriminatory ban on same-sex adoption. This case will soon go to federal court, where judges will decide how the legalization of gay marriage impacts the law.
- Kansas – A Kansas state representative is currently attempting to audit that state’s Department for Children and Families to determine whether it discriminates against same-sex couples when making foster and adoption decisions.
- Indiana – In several other states, such as Indiana, lawmakers are trying to introduce bills that would allow religious-affiliated adoption agencies to deny service to LGBT couples based on their beliefs.
The ink is barely dry on the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, but in these adoption cases, we’re already seeing the next battle for LGBT equality. It looks like the LGBT families can win this one, too: if a couple is legally married, shouldn’t they have the same rights as a heterosexual couple?
What’s Next for Lesbian Foster Moms in Utah?
To many outside observers, Judge Johansen’s decision seems not only ill-informed, but completely unethical. Judges’ personal beliefs should never enter into a legal decision, and citing non-existent research to justify individual biases seems like an offense that should result in the judge’s removal from the case. There’s nothing to indicate that the lesbian foster moms in Utah aren’t prepared to provide a loving and supportive environment to their foster child, and we can all hope that this case will be resolved in their favor and set the stage for more LGBT couples to foster and adopt in the state and across the country.