Utah Judge amends order to take baby from lesbian couple

April Hoagland, Beckie Peirce: US couple vow to keep fighting to keep their foster daughter
April Hoagland, Beckie Peirce: US couple vow to keep fighting to keep their foster daughter

A Utah judge has amended his decision to take a baby away from her lesbian foster parents and place her with a heterosexual couple after the ruling led to widespread backlash.

April Hoagland and Beckie Pierce said they are “shattered” by the ruling made by Judge Scott Johansen – who they said had claimed the child would be better off.

They are part of a group of same-sex married couples who were allowed to become foster parents in Utah after a ruling by the US Supreme Court last year that made same-sex marriage legal across the country.

April Hoagland told KUTV: “We’ve been told to care for this child like a mother would, and I am her mother – I mean that’s who she knows.

“It’s not fair and it’s not right. It just hurts me really bad because I haven’t done anything wrong.

“I was kind of caught off guard, because I didn’t think anything like that would happen anymore.”

The couple told the Salt Lake City TV station the judge told them on Tuesday that research indicated children who are raised in same-sex parent homes do not do as well as children who are raised by heterosexual couples.

But they argue the baby girl has thrived since arriving in their home three months ago and the biological mother of the child wants her to remain part of their family.

They have said they believe the judge was imposing his religious beliefs as part of the ruling. They are already raising Beckie’s two children, aged 12 and 14.

Their plight has drawn the attention of Democratic Presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, who tweeted: “Being a good parent has nothing to do with sexual orientation – thousands of families prove that.”

State child welfare officials are reviewing the order.

Ashley Sumner, a spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, said the order had raised concerns. She added the agency was not aware of any issues with the couple’s performance as foster parents.

The couple plan to fight the ruling.

Utah’s Republican Governor Gary Herbert said he was puzzled by the judge’s decision.

“He may not like the law, but he should follow the law,” he told reporters on Thursday.

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

Sportact Editors and Wire Services