NORTH OGDEN -- Dale and Julie Anderson are anxiously waiting as what has become known as Aubree Jo's law comes up for a vote on the floor of the Utah House.
There has been a bit of opposition to House Bill 88, so the Andersons hope to let legislators know the importance of passing it.
Aubree Jo Anderson died Feb. 23, 2011, in a single-car crash. Her mother, Brandi Stilke, was driving.
Tests revealed that Stilke had drugs in her system. Stilke pleaded guilty to negligent operation of a vehicle in causing the death of her daughter and is now serving a potential 15-year sentence in Utah State Prison.
The Anderson family continues to fight for justice for Aubree Jo, if only to leave a legacy in her name by adding language to the state custody amendments that would allow more equal treatment of fathers and mothers.
State Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, is sponsoring HB 88, which would add one line to existing law regarding custody: "In determining any form of custody, the court may not discriminate against a parent due to gender, race, religious preference, or age, but shall consider the best interests of the child."
In the months before the crash, the Andersons had been helping their son, Jared, fight for sole custody of his daughter, but that was refused by the court.
The bill, the Andersons feel, is the first step toward putting the best interest of the child first, rather than the best interest of the parents, which they feel is currently the case.
Wilcox is eager to bring the bill to the House floor.
"By and large, overwhelmingly, the majority have been supportive (of the bill)," he said.
The opposition has suggested the bill would take away religious freedom in some way or that adding the word "gender" in some way says mothers are not nurturing.
All the bill does, Wilcox said, is help the court to act in the best interest of the child; it doesn't say anything about who is the most nurturing, and the part about religious freedom remains in the statute.
Julie Anderson said, at first, it looked like the bill would quietly pass through everything, but with so many custody bills being considered this legislative session, Aubree Jo's law has been brought more to light.
She is OK with that, as long as the legislators see the importance of the bill.
Julie Anderson said she has been touched by the outpouring of support expressed to legislators regarding the bill. She has also been impressed with all the phone calls of love and support her family has received.
Wilcox said he is confident things will go well for the bill when it reaches the House floor.