SSM: Has this Judge Gone Off the Rails?

SSM: Has this Judge Gone Off the Rails? November 13, 2015

Spoiler alert: read the entire post for the ending that is, hopefully, permanent.

The Washington Post (see link below) reported that Scott Johansen, a Utah Judge, ordered a married couple to relinquish foster care custody of a young girl and cease efforts to adopt her. This ruling was issued Tuesday, November 10, 2015. Beckie Pierce and April Hoagland are lesbians and they are legally married. The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) approved the foster care of the child and the adoption. So did the birth mother. Nevertheless, Judge Johansen ruled that a child raised by gays would not do as well as a child raised by heterosexuals. As of June 2015, Pierce and Hoagland’s marriage is legal in any state in America and their right to responsibly raise children was also affirmed.

Governor Herbert was “puzzled” by the ruling. DCFS was baffled. The birth mother was mystified. Pierce and Hoagland were heartbroken.

I trust that those who agree with this ruling would also agree that the law is designed to protect from harm (physical, psychological, emotional, etc.). So let’s say, for arguments sake, that some of the people that agree with Judge Johansen’s ruling are also Mormon. I suggest that this is a challenging position to maintain at this juncture for a handful of reasons one of which would be the Twelvth Article of Faith’s mandate to obey, honor, and sustain the law of the land. Furthermore, because laws that protect the rights of a legally married lesbian couple—a definite minority—are also established to protect religious minorities like Mormons who constitute a mere two-percent of American society—a definite minority. Throw off laws that protect one minority and you may find them thrown off for another (such as Mormons) at some future date. The embattled history of Mormons and their abuse through crimes that demanded the suspension of civil law are stunning. In that light, I suggest that a a willingness to defend others when legal rulings run off the rails should be an integral ethic of the Mormon mind.

Finally, I trust that legal experts (that are also Mormon) are troubled by this ruling. Especially in light of Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ recent comments wherein he agreed with the bench that found Kim Davis in contempt for not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky. The general gist of his comments recommended a need to obey the law and, if desired, work to change laws through legislative processes. However, I’m no legal expert to be sure. So on these grounds, I freely yield to those experts among us. What say ye? Enter the discussion. And may all sides be civil in the exchange.

Here’s the link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/11/12/utah-judge-removes-foster-child-from-lesbian-couple-saying-shell-be-better-off-with-heterosexuals/

Wait! DCFS just filed the following response to Judge Johansen’s ruling:

“It is our position that this removal is not in the best interests of the child,” DCFS officials said in a statement. “Unless Judge Johansen vacates his order, DCFS will proceed with our petition to the [Utah] Court of Appeals.”

see here: http://www.sltrib.com/nes/3169601-155/same-sex-foster-parents-state-petition-court

VERY IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT: Johansen reversed his own ruling to have the young child removed from the home of the couple. Is the case closed? We shall see. This is a good illustration of the speed that many same-sex issues travel. Thanks to Jeffrey Meadows for alerting me to the judge’s reversal.

see http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/14/us/utah-lesbian-couple-foster-child-ruling.html?_r=1

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