Sunday, November 15, 2015

Salt Lake Tribune Slams Anti-Gay Judge

I previously noted the anti-gay bigotry of Utah judge who ordered a foster child removed from a legally married lesbian couple.  Judge Scott Johansen cited utterly discredited "research" bankrolled by and orchestrated by anti-gay "Christian" organizations.  Johansen chose to disregard the rulings of the 9th Circuit, 10th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court that found his cited research to be wrong.  Now, after widespread outrage and a damning denunciation in the Salt Lake Tribune, Johansen is apparently rethinking his bigoted ruling.  As a had argued, the Tribune editorial indicates that Johansen's remaining on the bench should now be in doubt.  Coupled with some backtracking and PR damage control by the Mormon Church in the wake of its recent anti-gay guidelines, the last week has proved to be bad news for the Utah religious extremists.  Here are editorial highlights: 
Spare a thought, if you will, for Judge Scott Johansen.  The juvenile court judge in Utah's 7th District over the last week was the target of local despair, official puzzlement and national derision when he, on his own initiative, moved to undo the proper placement of an infant child with a state-approved foster family because the big-hearted parents involved happen to be two women. Two women who are legally married to one another.

The negative reactions were correct. The judge's order was wrong. The foster parents and the relevant state agencies are correct to be appealing it. The foster parents' plan to adopt the child should proceed with all deliberate speed.

The whole matter should be resoundingly disposed of just as soon as the relevant appeals court can sweep Johansen's bigoted order aside.

And, despite the fact that the judge is apparently rethinking his position, Johansen's continued position on the Carbon County bench should also be in question.

But, remember, it wasn't all that long ago that the transparently bogus reasoning Johansen claimed to be relying on in ordering the 9-month-old baby girl removed from her foster home and placed with "a duly married, heterosexual foster-adoptive couple" was part and parcel of the state's case against the acceptance of same-sex marriage in Utah.

As recently as the summer of 2014, the state of Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes were trying to convince the local federal court and, having failed there, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, that same-sex marriage should be banned because any children raised in a household so configured would be at a serious disadvantage compared to those brought up in families headed by heterosexual parents.

The state backpedaled slightly on that claim as the appeal went along. But the opinion of the 10th Circuit went out of its way to shoot it down anyway, calling it, "an argument based only on pure speculation and conjecture."

Other appeals courts and, eventually, the Supreme Court of the United States, also rejected the case against raising children in same-sex households as being without scientific or legal merit. The state of Utah has complied.

Thus were all involved apparently stunned at Johansen's Nov. 10 ruling, an order that violated not only the Supreme Court's rulings but also current state law and administrative practice, which now allow foster placement in, and adoption by, legally married same-sex couples.

After the fallout, which ranged from tears in the home of the foster parents to a raised eyebrow by Herbert — who called the judge's ruling an example of improper "activism on the bench" — Johansen seems to have given the matter more thought.

Instead of ordering the child removed by Nov. 17, he has left the status quo in place through a hearing now set for Dec. 4. If he does anything other than fully repudiate his previous order, with a lot of apologies to all concerned, the state should have the appeal already drafted and ready to file.

This judge's retrograde opinion on the legal acceptance of same-sex marriage in case of foster care and adoption, if not fully squelched, threatens to spill over into other matters, such as custody disputes. That is particularly a problem given the recent policy statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints denying full church participation to children living with same-sex parents. 

Judge Johansen has created an opportunity for himself to right this wrong. If he doesn't, other state officials must do it for him. Immediately.

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