Family Equality Council Statement On Utah Judge Removing Foster Child From Same-Sex Couple

On November 11, Judge Scott Johansen of the Seventh District Juvenile Court in Utah ordered the Department of Child and Family Services to remove a baby within seven days from the home of April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, a lesbian couple who’d been fostering the one-year-old girl for three months. According to the couple, who are married with two children of their own, the judge cited studies that claim the child would be better off with heterosexual parents. When pressed to identify the referenced research, Johansen refused.

Statement from Family Equality Council Interim Co-Executive Director Emily Hecht-McGowan:

“A judge’s job in family court is to consider the best interests of the individual child. Rather than considering the recommendations of the child welfare experts intimately involved with this case or the wishes of the birth mother, Judge Johansen made an ill-informed and discriminatory ruling, imposing his own bias on an innocent child. It is particularly disturbing that a sitting judge would give such weight to widely discredited ‘studies’ that have not been offered into evidence by any party to the matter before him. All major child welfare associations agree — the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of American and others — that children raised by same-sex couples fare just as well as children raised in homes with heterosexual parents. If there was ever any question about what work we have left to do after achieving nationwide marriage equality, this is a perfect example. There is still much to be done to ensure LGBTQ people and same-sex couples can protect our families. Sadly, Utah has no anti-discrimination law to prevent this kind of bias from impacting the state’s most vulnerable foster children.”

For TV, newspaper and web interviews with Hecht-McGowan, contact Media Manager Bradley Jacobs at 917-324-8771 or via email at

What’s next after marriage equality? See our post-marriage Family Values Forward platform:


About Family Equality Council: Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer in this country today and their six million children of all ages. We are changing attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated — including families with parents who are LGBTQ. We are a community of parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren that reaches across this country. For over 30 years we have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families.

Bradley Jacobs
Media Manager
Family Equality Council