Utah Judge Orders Baby Taken Away from Married Lesbian Foster Parents

Utah state child welfare officials on Wednesday were wrangling with a ruling by a juvenile court judge who ordered a baby to be taken from lesbian foster parents and instead placed with a heterosexual couple, saying it was for the child’s wellbeing.


Judge Scott Johansen’s order on Tuesday raised concerns at the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, said agency spokeswoman Ashley Sumner.

Its attorneys plan to review the decision and determine what options they have to challenge the order.

The ruling came during a routine hearing for April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce. They are part of a group of same-sex married couples who were allowed to become foster parents in Utah after a US supreme court ruling made gay marriage legal across the country, Sumner said.

State officials estimate there are a dozen or more foster parents who are married same-sex couples.

Hoagland and Peirce told KUTV they were distraught after the ruling, which called for the baby girl they have been raising for three months to be taken away within a week.

They said Johansen cited research that children did better when raised by heterosexual couples, but Hoagland said the judge was imposing his religious beliefs.

“We are shattered,” she told the Salt Lake City TV station. “It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Johansen was precluded by judicial rules from discussing pending cases, Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

Sumner, from the child welfare agency, said she could not speak to specifics of the case but confirmed that the couple’s account of the ruling was accurate — the judge’s decision was based on the couple being lesbians. The agency was not aware of any other issues with their performance as foster parents.

The ruling triggered a heated response from the Human Rights Campaign. The gay rights group called the order shocking, outrageous and unjust.

With Associated Press

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