A Utah judge has ordered a 1-year-old girl removed from her foster parents after only three months simply because they are gay, KUTV reports. "We are shattered," April Hoagland says. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the law allows any legally married couple to be foster parents, and Hoagland and her partner Beckie Peirce are both licensed. KUTV reports the couple passed home inspections, background checks, and interviews with child services, and there have been no issues with the child's wellbeing. Peirce says they are left to conclude Judge Scott Johansen made the decision simply based on his personal religious beliefs. "He's never been in our home, never spent time with the child in our home," Peirce tells KUTV. "So he doesn't know anything about this."
In ordering the child removed from Peirce and Hoagland's home, Johansen claimed research has shown children are better off with heterosexual parents, KUTV reports. The director of child services tells the Tribune the judge's order is "unusual." And KUTV reports both the child's state-appointed attorney and biological mother want her to stay with Hoagland and Peirce, who planned on adopting her. All parties plan on appealing the relocation order, and a hearing is scheduled for December. In the meantime, the child will be relocated, according to the Tribune. This is not Johansen's first dabble in controversy. He slapped a 16-year-old boy at a courthouse in 1995 and ordered a mother to cut off her teen daughter's ponytail as a punishment in 2014.