SALT LAKE CITY (AP) A Utah judge who had ordered a baby taken away from lesbian foster parents and placed with a heterosexual couple is removing himself from the case.
Judge Scott Johansen reversed that decision last week amid widespread criticism, but there were concerns he could still have the baby removed from the married couple's home during a custody hearing set for Dec. 4.
April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce asked that the judge be disqualified. In an order released Monday, Johansen writes that while the couple don't have legal standing, he's nevertheless stepping aside.
When Johansen ordered the 9-month-old baby taken away Nov. 10, he mentioned research showing children do better when raised by heterosexual families.
But the American Psychological Association has said there's no scientific basis for believing that gay couples are unfit parents based on sexual orientation.
The couple, Hoagland and Peirce, released a reaction through Equality Utah:
We are thankful that Judge Johansen has decided to step aside. Our greatest concern now is taking care of our beautiful baby foster daughter. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from people all across the nation. We are grateful that our family is now being treated equally under the law."
Troy Williams, the executive director of Equality Utah said, "We applaud Judge Johansen for recusing himself from this case. LGBT parents love and adore their children with as much devotion as our heterosexual counterparts. Sexual orientation should never be a barrier to raising a loving family.