A judge in the US state of Utah has ordered that a foster child be removed from the care of a lesbian couple, and placed with a heterosexual family.
The child was being looked after by April Hoagland and her partner Beckie Peirce. If the judge’s decision is not overruled then the child will be removed from the couple’s care by the end of the week.
The decision, made by Judge Scott Johansen in the town of Price, has been criticised by gay rights groups.
In an interview with a local television news station, the couple said that the judge referred to research that children are better off when they are raised by heterosexual parents.
“We are shattered,” Ms Hoagland told the station. “It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”
The two are part of a group of same-sex married couples who the state of Utah has allowed to become foster parents in the wake of last summer’s US Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal across the US.
The decision to remove the child that the lesbian couple had been raising for three months, has drawn heavy criticism from gay rights groups.
“Removing a child from a loving home simply because the parents are LGBT is outrageous, shocking, and unjust,” said president of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin. “All major studies on the matter show that parents’ sexual orientation is not related to a child’s mental health and social development.”
Unfortunately this is not the first time that Judge Johansen’s decision have come under scrutiny.
In 1997, he was reprimanded for slapping a 16-year-old in the face at a courthouse in Price.
And in 2012, he drew attention for ordering a 13-year-old girl’s hair cut in exchange for a lighter sentence. The girl was being prosecuted for cutting the hair of another, younger girl.
That same year, he was criticised for sending a teenage boy on probation to jail after he received a poor school report. Teen was on probation for shoplifting a pack of gum.
The foster agency has said that it is unaware of any issues with Ms Hoagland and Ms Peirce’s performance as foster parents. The agency’s attorneys are now reviewing the decision to see what challenges might be mounted.
“We just want sharing, loving families for these kids,” as spokesperson from the agency has said. “We don’t really care what that looks like.”
The agency’s main objective is to keep children in one foster home for as long as possible, on the condition that the parents – who are all screened before becoming foster parents – are providing adequate care. Sexual orientation has never and will never be a part of the decision.
What do you think of the judge’s ruling? Should the child be taken away from the lesbian couple?
Photos courtesy of NBC