Utah Lesbian Foster Parents Have Child Taken Away By Homophobic Judge

by Holiday Black

In this morning’s addition to bigotry against LGBT parenting, two lesbian foster parents in Utah have had their one-year-old taken from them, thanks to the clutches of Mormonism. The legally married couple, Beckie Pierce and April Hoagland, had been caring for the child for three months as the state worked towards severing the biological mother’s parental rights. The mother had asked Hoagland and Pierce to take charge, and the couple is licensed to serve as foster parents. Any logical (read: sane) person would look at this and infer that their position is completely legal.

“We have a lot of support,” Pierce told the Salt Lake Tribune. “The DCFS [Division of Child and Family Services] 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.” 

Unfortunately, the support of the biological mother, the support of those of us who are not batshit crazy, and the actual law is not enough to stand in the way of glaring homophobia. The judge alleges that his research proves that children are better off in heterosexual homes. When asked to share his research findings, he shockingly declined. Hmm… I’d guess that this is because that research doesn’t exist, or maybe it’s because if I wanted to I could gather enough “research” to prove that, tomorrow, pizza is going to rain from the sky. My point is that this is just fucking dumb and we all know it.

It’s exhausting, and it’s painful. “I was caught off guard because I didn’t think anything like that would happen anymore,” Hoagland told KUTV. “…It’s not fair, it’s not right, and it hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”

No kidding. I think when things like this happen in LGBT parenting, we get all huffy and puffy about it, and it’s easy to point a middle finger towards the swirling sky of heteronormative doom without really taking the rage to that next level. Sometimes we talk about these things and we are so blinded and befuddled by the ass-backwardness without really taking a second to think about the emotional toll these legislative calls have on people.

There’s a lot you can say about the role of the state in sanctioning certain kinds of love and not others, and there’s a lot you can say about the glass ceiling on that limits conversation, and our imaginative capacities therein. Still, judgment calls like these are devastating and are totally invalidating. When people basically say your parents are not legitimate in the eyes of the law, it does incur feelings of doubt, of being less than. It’s not as if LGBT people don’t have enough of those feelings.

I have a lot of Mormon family members who live in Utah, and to be completely honest, all of them are pretty dysfunctional. Like to the level where we don’t really talk anymore. Especially in a hot-bed of arbitrary fury like Utah, I think sometimes just one headline sends a pretty strong message to people about how they can think about themselves, or if they can think about themselves, as human beings in the world. 

I have LGBT family members in Utah who recently came out. I would assume that there are probably several other people in my relatively large Mormon family who are also LGBT but are not able to be out. I know these family members have been through a lot, and I know that there’s second and third hand trauma and very real violence that is caused by things like this. Oppression doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s a cycle. 

We’re quick to rule out places like Utah as anomalies, but really, those places in some ways should serve as a marker for the general level of violence that reigns in the world of hetero patriarchy. It’s easy to get mad for enough time it takes to ball a fist, but I’d rather sit with that anger and think about dismantling these systems of pervasive yuck. I have plenty I could rage about in this blog post. At this point though I’ll try to forge? a place for forgiveness and just remind myself that we have work to do.  

Images: Heather Has Two Mommies; KUTV

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