Utah judge removes child from same-sex couple, citing 'research'

© Bernardo Montoya
A Utah judge has ordered that a foster baby be taken away from a same-sex couple – the judge said he has research about children “doing better in heterosexual families.”

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce had been taking care of the baby girl for three months, and were already getting ready to adopt her. They are also raising Peirce’s two older kids together.

However, Utah Judge Scott Johansen ordered that the girl should be adopted by a heterosexual couple, reportedly citing a study with the alleged data on kids being negatively affected by same-sex parents.

"He said he has research to back that children do better in heterosexual homes," Hoagland told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

"It's not fair and it's not right, and it hurts me really badly because I haven't done anything wrong," she said in a separate interview to Salt Lake City’s KUTV.

"We love her and she loves us, and we haven't done anything wrong. And the law, as I understand it, reads that any legally-married couple can foster and adopt," Peirce echoed her partner’s words, speaking to the Salt Lake City Tribune.

The judge was banned from commenting on the matter, Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer told AP.

The grief-stricken couple believes the judge was led by his own religious beliefs when deciding on the issue.

"He's never been in our home, never spent time with the child in our home or our other children so he doesn't know anything about this," Peirce told KUTV.

The court order gives the local Child and Family services a week to find another foster family for the baby girl. The agency is set to object to the order, spokeswoman Ashley Sumner told AP.

Same-sex marriage, and thus the adoption by same-sex couples, was legalized about two years ago in Utah. As of 2014, the state had the highest rate of same-sex couples raising children across the US – 26 percent, according to the infographic by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

This isn’t the first example of gay couple rights being denied by state authorities despite the Supreme Court act. Kim Davis, a clerk from Kentucky, sparked nationwide indignation when she refused to issue marriage licenses for newly-wed gays, citing religious beliefs as a basis. Davis was subsequently taken into custody, which in its turn was criticized by some conservative advocates. The story was widely covered in the media and highlighted gray areas in the US legislature. The Kentucky clerk was released a week later on condition she didn’t interfere with her deputies issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

Back in June, same-sex marriage was legalized in all US states.