Judge removes foster baby from lesbian couple; governor questions ruling

Stock image | St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah judge who ordered a baby to be taken from her lesbian foster parents and placed with a heterosexual couple for the child’s well-being should follow the law and not inject his personal beliefs into the decision, the state’s Republican governor said Thursday.

Foster parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce are photographed on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015 in Salt Lake City. A judge who ordered that a baby be taken away from April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, her lesbian foster parents and placed with a heterosexual couple should follow the law and not inject his personal beliefs into the matter, Utah's Republican governor said Thursday, Nov. 12. (Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
Foster parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce are photographed on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015 in Salt Lake City. A judge who ordered that a baby be taken away from Hoagland and Peirce, her lesbian foster parents, and placed with a heterosexual couple should follow the law and not inject his personal beliefs into the matter, Utah’s Republican governor said Thursday, Nov. 12. (Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

Gov. Gary Herbert told reporters he is puzzled by Judge Scott Johansen’s ruling, which child welfare officials said they are reviewing for a possible challenge.

“He may not like the law, but he should follow the law. We don’t want to have activism on the bench in any way, shape or form,” the governor said.

Herbert added that the judge should not “inject his own personal beliefs and feelings in superseding the law.”

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce say the judge cited research that children do better when they are raised by heterosexual couples. Johansen is precluded by judicial rules from discussing pending cases, Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

The ruling came during a routine hearing Tuesday for the couple in the central Utah city of Price. They are part of a group of same-sex married couples who were allowed to become foster parents in Utah after last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal across the country, said Ashley Sumner, spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Hoagland and Peirce have not been successful, but the couple told KUTV that they are distraught. The ruling calls for the baby girl they have been raising for three months to be taken away within a week.

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

Sumner said she can’t speak to specifics of the case but confirmed the couple’s account of the ruling is accurate — the judge’s decision was based on the couple being lesbians. The agency isn’t aware of any other issues with their performance as foster parents.

A full transcript of the ruling has not been made public and may not be because court records of cases involving foster children are kept private to protect the kids, Sumner said.

State officials don’t keep an exact count but estimate there are a dozen or more foster parents who are married same-sex couples.

All couples are screened before becoming foster parents.

“We just want sharing, loving families for these kids,” Sumner said. “We don’t really care what that looks like.”

The ruling has generated national buzz, triggering a heated response from The Anti-Defamation League and Human Rights Campaign. The gay rights group called the order shocking, outrageous and unjust.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton also tweeted about it.

“Being a good parent has nothing to do with sexual orientation — thousands of families prove that,” she wrote on her Twitter account, with a link to the KUTV story.

Utah’s governor was asked about the case during his monthly news conference taped at KUED.

Story by: BRADY McCOMBS and Michelle L. Price, Associated Press

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Email: news@stgnews.com

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20 Comments

  • 42214 November 12, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Utah is just bound and determined to shoot itself in the foot over the gay issue. When I moved here, all my friends asked if I was Mormon. Now when I talk to them they ask if I’m a bigot. It seems there isn’t much difference I guess.

    • April November 12, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      What are you judging a whole group of people so harshly …. Looks like a pot calling the kettle black.

      • .... November 13, 2015 at 10:49 am

        It should be. Why are you judging a whole group. not What are you judging a whole group….but It seems you cult members have your own way of doing things eh. ?

      • 42214 November 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm

        Pot calling kettle black, explain. Makes no sense?

    • .... November 12, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      They should spray for Mormons instead of Mosquitos

  • BIG GUY November 12, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Herbert is right, Hilary is wrong.

  • Bender November 12, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Finally! Found an actual activist judge.

    • BIG GUY November 12, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      There are four or five of them on the Supreme Court.

      • Bender November 13, 2015 at 11:59 am

        One man’s activist judge is another man’s sober, constitution-abiding judge.

  • xbcmc059 November 12, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Only in UTAH…… Moral Hypocrites.

    • April November 12, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      That would be hypocrite…. Singular…. not plural, unless you are including yourself in there….. Look in the mirror!

      • 42214 November 13, 2015 at 8:45 am

        Very weak. Are you related to Mesaman or just an independent apologist?

      • .... November 13, 2015 at 10:43 am

        April..you should follow your own advice ! But it seems you cult members don’t do that

  • Rainbow Dash November 12, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    You know I have to be honest here, I TOTALLY DID NOT EXPECT SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO HAPPEN after the Mormons “clarified” their opinion gay people and their children last week. Nope, not at all. Not. At All. 😉 #whatwouldjesusdo? #notwhatthisjudgedid #wantproof? #readJohn8:1-11

  • anybody home November 12, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Utah and the Mormons have a unique way of pretending to obey the law but finding personal loopholes to ignore it. These two women gave the baby a loving home – with the natural mother’s blessing – and now this, this what? monster of a judge has ripped the child from their arms because he doesn’t like the law. Really, Mormons like this should hang their heads in shape and my great hope is that a wild flight of locusts and pestilence descend on the state. For Mormons who think this is a good thing, you are despicable.

    • sagemoon November 13, 2015 at 8:43 am

      I have to agree with “anybody home” on this issue.

  • April November 12, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    The article states “We just want sharing, loving families for these kids,” Sumner said. “We don’t really care what that looks like.”
    I will be supporting a change in the law to legalize more than one partner. Should be much easier to do in Utah than same sex union. Families with MORE than one mommy or one daddy for that matter are also very loving and especially the ultimate in “sharing” families. Why can’t a polygamist be a foster parent!!!!

  • .... November 12, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Mormons do not hide their hated and bigotry against non believers

  • 42214 November 13, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Nov 13, Fox News home page, story, “New Mormon LGBT rules ignites frenzy among faithful”. Glad to see there are some independent thinkers in the flock.

  • GrandmaB November 13, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I have to agree with Rainbow. WOW, what a surprise. The church comes out with even more punishment for the LGBT community, aiming right where it really hurts, the kids, and, surprise, surprise an activist judge believes it is OK for him to do this. LOL LOL Can you imagine what teachers, doctors, state, county and local clerks are going to do? Really, it will be the teachers with the greatest impact.

    Then when god discovers that he made these people this way, the church will back off, the same way they did with blacks. But the damage will have been done.

    These gay families, many of them are or were members of the church. They grew up in the community, feeling loved, belonging. Many of them still believe in the doctrines of the church. I can’t even imagine the pain they must feel, knowing that their children, because of something they HAVE NO CONTROL over, will never experience that sense of belonging. And if they want to experience it, they must deny everything their families are. They have to prove to the church they hate what their families are! Since the good judge lied about the research, good luck with that you freaking morons.

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