A Utah family court judge has ordered that a one-year-old child must be taken away from the foster parents who’ve been raising her because the foster parents are lesbians, reports the Los Angeles Times.

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce are a married couple living in Utah, and for three months they’ve been fostering a baby girl placed in their care “while the state moves toward terminating her biological mother’s parental rights.” Together they are also raising Peirce’s 12- and 14-year-old biological children. Tuesday they went for a “routine hearing” with 7th District Court Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen.

Johansen is reportedly of the opinion that same-sex couples are unfit as parents. He ordered the child removed from their care within one week.

[Hoagland and Peirce] said Johansen cited research that children do better when they are raised by heterosexual couples. Hoagland believes the judge imposed his religious beliefs.

A report from The Salt Lake Tribune says Johansen declined to produce this supposed research when pressed on the matter by attorneys for the Utah Division of Child and Family Services and the Guardian Ad Litem Office. A DCFS spokesperson was unable to speak in specifics about the case, but confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Johansen’s decision “was based upon the couple being lesbians.”

Let’s back up for a minute and take a look at Utah’s qualifications for foster parents, as found on Utah Foster Care’s website:

  • Foster parents may be married couples or single individuals aged 21 or older. Unmarried couples are unable to be licensed.
  • Foster parents must be US citizens or permanent legal residents.
  • Foster parents and all persons 18 and older in the home must pass background checks.
  • Foster parents need to be financially stable and able to support their family without assistance from the state.
  • Foster parents need to be healthy enough to care for children as determined by their own doctor.
  • Foster parents will not be licensed to do both foster care and day care at the same time.

Alright, so, historically, that first qualification—unmarried couples are unable to be licensed—would have precluded LGBT couples from becoming foster parents in Utah. Maybe that was even the motivation behind that particular qualification, but that’s neither here nor there—same-sex marriage is now legal in the United States (you may have heard), and Hoagland and Peirce are married.

It’s worth noting, also, that Mississippi is the only U.S. state where LGBT couples are disallowed from adoption, and a pending lawsuit is challenging that restriction. There is nothing on the books in Utah that would prevent otherwise qualified LGBT couples from fostering or adopting children.

Child welfare officials are reportedly “trying to determine whether they can challenge that order,” but, in the meantime, as you can imagine, Hoagland and Peirce are devastated:

“We love her and she loves us, and we haven’t done anything wrong,” Beckie Peirce said Wednesday. “And the law, as I understand it, reads that any legally married couple can foster and adopt.”

“We are shattered,” [Hoagland] told [KUTV]. “It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”

The Salt Lake Tribune report highlights previous instances of Johansen being a creepy shitheel:

In 1997, he was reprimanded by the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission for “demeaning the judicial office” after slapping a 16-year-old boy who became belligerent during a 1995 meeting at the Price courthouse.

You may also remember Scott Johansen as the judge who once ordered a mother to cut off her daughter’s ponytail in his courtroom in order to reduce the daughter’s sentence. Yes, this is the same asshole.

DCFS is now working to place the child in another home, in order to avoid running afoul of Johansen’s order. In response to his ruling, Human Rights Campaign issued a strongly worded response:

“Removing a child from a loving home simply because the parents are LGBT is outrageous, shocking, and unjust. It also flies in the face of overwhelming evidence that children being raised by same-sex parents are just as healthy and well-adjusted as those with different-sex parents. At a time when so many children in foster care need loving homes, it is sickening to think that a child would be taken from caring parents who planned to adopt.”

Unlike Johansen’s unsourced baloney research, Human Rights Watch offered an actual list of studies that say “a parent’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with his or her ability to be a good parent.”

The girl’s biological mother had reportedly asked Hoagland and Peirce to adopt the child. Pending an appeal of the ruling, she will instead be pulled from this stable, loving home and cycled back into the foster system.

[Los Angeles Times] [Salt Lake Tribune] [Human Rights Campaign]

Screenshot via YouTube