Lesbian couple deeply gratified that judge reversed order

Foster parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce are photographed on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015 in Salt Lake City. A judge who ordered that a baby be taken away from April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, her lesbian foster parents and placed with a heterosexual couple should follow the law and not inject his personal beliefs into the matter, Utah's Republican governor said Thursday, Nov. 12. Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP

A lawyer for a Utah lesbian couple who are foster parents to a baby girl says they’re happy a judge reversed his order to remove the child from their home and place her with a heterosexual couple.

Attorney Jim Hunnicutt said Friday that April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce are “excellent, wonderful parents” who love the 9-month-old girl very much.

Child welfare officials say Judge Scott Johansen’s decision doesn’t rule out the possibility that he could order the child removed from the home at a Dec. 4 custody hearing.

Hunnicutt says the couple is confident that they’ll be able to keep the baby.

The attorney doesn’t believe public outcry over the original decision changed the judge’s mind. He thinks Johansen reversed his order after reviewing the law and realizing he made a mistake.

Utah’s child welfare agency is applauding a judge’s decision to allow a baby to stay with her lesbian foster parents, but officials say that order could be temporary.

Ashley Sumner, spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, said a revised order by Judge Scott Johansen means the agency won’t have to pull the 9-month-old baby from April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce’s home next week, as originally ordered.

Sumner says Johansen’s decision, which was released Friday, doesn’t rule out the possibility that he could order the child removed from the home after a custody hearing scheduled for Dec. 4.

She says child welfare officials are working to keep the family together and hope that the public outcry surrounding the case sends a strong message to the judge.

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