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Utah Judge Reverses Ruling That Takes Away Lesbian Couple's Foster Child

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A Utah judge earlier sparked outrage after ordering to remove a foster child from the home of a lesbian couple, who said they had the consent of the baby's biological mother to take care of the child. The judge has now rescinded his order and says that the couple may keep the baby that they were planning on adopting.

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce are a legally married same-sex couple already raising Peirce's two biological children together. They had gone through all the regular channels of background checks, interviews and home inspections to prove that they are fit to raise children. The biological mother of the infant, as well as the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, had always been supportive of the couple fostering and adopting the baby girl.

Other concerned parties were shocked and heartbroken at Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen's original order to have the child removed and placed specifically in the home of a heterosexual couple.

Johansen rescinded his order as stated in court documents obtained on Friday.

Legal analysts who saw the documents noted various instances where Johansen amended earlier forms of his original order. Although the initial order showed the judge's bias toward heterosexual families, the amended ruling tried to downplay his religious and personal beliefs.

"The Court orders the Division to place the child with a duly married, heterosexual foster-adoptive couple within one week," read the original document.

Furthermore, the judge wrote that the reasoning behind his decision was the "belief that research has shown that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home."

The amended documents, however, had the first line crossed out and the word "belief" replaced with "concern."

The governor's office also issued a statement on the controversial ruling amid calls from LGBT civil rights groups that asked for an investigation of Johansen.

"I expect the court and the judge to follow the law. He may not like the law, but he should follow the law. We don't want to have activism of the bench in any way, shape or form," said Governor Gary Herbert on the matter.

Peirce and Hoagland are happy to finally have their foster daughter returned to them, but the battle is not yet over. Hearings are still expected to take place and, according to the court order, the baby will remain with them in the interim.

"We want to do what's best for the child and make sure she's taken care of in the way she should be," Peirce said in an interview.

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