Beckie Peirce and April Hoagland had been fostering a baby girl for three months when Judge Scott Johansen order the child to be removed, citing “research” that proved children are better off in homes with straight parents. Now, they plan to challenge his ruling.
“We love her and she loves us, and we haven’t done anything wrong,” Peirce told the Salt Lake Tribune. The child’s biological mother had even asked the couple to adopt. “We have a lot of support,” Peirce said. “DCFS wants us to have the child, the Guardian Ad Litem wants us to have the child, the mother wants us to have the child, so the only thing standing in the way is the judge.” Peirce and Hoagland married in October 2014 and are also raising Peirce’s 12- and 14-year-old biological children.
Attorneys from the Department of Child and Family Services will be reviewing the judge’s ruling, which orders the baby to be removed from the couple’s residence in seven days. Peirce and Hoagland told KUTV they feel Judge Johansen imposed his religious beliefs on their situation without actually considering the well-being of the infant.
“If we feel like [Johansen’s] decision is not best for the child and we have a recourse to appeal or change it, we’re going to do that,” said DCFS director Brent Platt. He points out no other state judge has expressed concerns about placing foster kids in homes with same-sex parents.
Judge Johansen has received criticism for his controversial rulings in the past. He once sent a teenage boy to juvenile detention for violating his probation by receiving poor grades on his report card. (The boy had initially been accused of stealing a pack of gum.) In 1997, Johansen slapped a 16-year-old boy during a meeting at a courthouse and was reprimanded by the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission for “demeaning the judicial office.” In 2012, Johansen ordered the mother of a 13-year-old girl to cut off her daughter’s ponytail in public court as punishment for the teen, who’d cut a 3-year-old’s hair at a restaurant.