Tag Archives: lesbians

Gospel singer Kim Burrell makes no apology for calling gays ‘perverted’

Gospel singer Kim Burrell says she makes “no excuses or apologies” for a sermon at a Houston church where she referred to gays and lesbians as perverted.

A tape of Burrell preaching at the Love & Liberty Fellowship Church began circulating online.

She said that “the perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women.” She referred to specific homosexual acts as perverted.

Burrell was scheduled to sing a duet this week with Pharrell on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show. The singers were to perform “I See Victory” from the soundtrack of the new movie “Hidden Figures.”

DeGeneres’ said Burrell would not be making an appearance on the show. DeGeneres tweeted this week: “For those asking, Kim Burrell will not be appearing on my show.”

Pharrell posted on Instagram that “I condemn hate speech of any kind.”

It wasn’t immediately clear when Burrell gave the sermon.

She spoke on Facebook Live late last week about the tape that had circulated, referring to unspecified “enemies” for spreading only a portion of her speech.

She said that she has never discriminated against gays and lesbians. “I love you and God loves you,” she said. “But God hates the sin.”

San Francisco mayor vows to remain sanctuary city

A large crowd cheered earlier this week as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee vowed that the city will remain a sanctuary for immigrants, gays and lesbians and religious minorities despite the election of a president who strikes fear into many of those communities.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to cancel federal funding for sanctuary cities such as San Francisco that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. He also said he plans to deport millions of criminals who are living in the country illegally.

“We will always be San Francisco,” said Lee from the rotunda of city hall as dozens of people roared with approval at an event that featured the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and a host of public elected officials.

“I know that there are a lot of people who are angry and frustrated and fearful, but our city’s never been about that. We have been, and always have been, a city of refuge, a city of sanctuary, a city of love.”

San Francisco receives roughly $480 million directly from the federal government and more than $900 million from the state, much of it pass-through federal money, city Controller Ben Rosenfield said.

The largest share goes toward health care, but federal dollars also fund public assistance and infrastructure, he said. The city’s budget is $9.6 billion.

It’s uncertain how the city would recoup that money should Trump make good on his promise to cut off sanctuary cities.

Also reacting to Trump’s statements on deportations, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said his officers will stay out of immigration issues as they have for decades. “I don’t intend on doing anything different,” Beck told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

“We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job,” Beck said.

Trump excoriated San Francisco last year when 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot and killed by a Mexican native who said he had found a gun and it accidentally fired.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had a federal detainer on him, but he was released from San Francisco’s jail after the district attorney declined to prosecute a decades-old marijuana sales charge. The sheriff at the time freed Lopez-Sanchez in keeping with city laws not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

San Francisco’s sanctuary policy, which was tweaked and re-affirmed earlier this year, bars city employees from cooperating with federal immigration officials in deportation efforts except in rare situations. The law dates to 1989.

The current sheriff, Vicki Hennessy, also supports sanctuary policy as a public safety tool. Sanctuary advocates say people who live in the country illegally are more likely to report crimes to local police if they know they won’t be deported.

She said Monday that she’s concerned but taking a wait-and-see approach to a Trump presidency

“I’m following Hillary Clinton’s advice in her concession speech, which was to give the new president a chance to lead, and hopefully he’ll lead with compassion and understanding, as well as making sure our cities are safe for everybody,” Hennessy said.

Some key opinions from Scalia, known for fierce, pointed language and conservative views

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative and provocative judge who died at age 79, was known for pointed language, fiercely held opinions and a sardonic wit that at times invoked fairy tales, foreigners and hippies.

Since joining the court in 1986, Scalia weighed in — often colorfully and memorably — on the major issues of the day, including guns, gay marriage and the death penalty.

Some of the significant opinions he wrote for the court’s majority — as well as the dissents for which he is perhaps even better known:

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. HELLER, 2008

Scalia was responsible for the majority opinion in a seminal Second Amendment case, writing for the court in a 5-4 ruling that upheld the right to have guns for self-defense in the home.

Turning aside a District of Columbia ban on handguns, Scalia leaned on English and colonial history in declaring that the individual right to bear arms clearly exists and is supported by the ‘historical narrative.”

In the concluding lines of the opinion, which divided the court’s liberals and conservatives, he acknowledged the views of those who considered the Second Amendment “outmoded” at a time of serious gun violence and when “our standing army is the pride of our nation.”

“That is perhaps debatable,” he wrote, “but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.”

BROWN v. ENTERTAINMENT MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION, 2011

In an opinion that name-dropped Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and Homer’s Ulysses, Scalia rejected attempts by California to restrict the sale or rental of violent video games to children.

A state, he wrote in the majority decision, has the authority to protect children from harm, “but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”

California’s argument would make more sense, he added, if there was a longstanding tradition of restricting “children’s access to depictions of violence, but there is none.”

What to make, he wrote, of how Cinderella’s evil stepsisters get their eyes pecked out by doves? Or of Odysseus, a hero of Greek mythology, blinding Polyphemus the Cyclops with a heated stake?

“And Hansel and Gretel (children!) kill their captor by baking her in an oven,” he wrote.

ROPER v. SIMMONS, 2005

Scalia famously dissented from a 5-4 decision that declared the execution of juvenile criminals to be unconstitutional. He took a similar stance in 1989 when he wrote the opinion, Stanford v. Kentucky, that allowed states to use capital punishment for killers who were 16 or 17 when they committed their crimes.

In his biting Roper v. Simmons dissent, he ridiculed the notion that states that had abandoned capital punishment altogether should be included in a discussion about the juvenile death penalty.

Consulting states that had no death penalty about making an exception for offenders under 18, he wrote, “is rather like including old-order Amishmen in a consumer-preference poll on the electric car. Of course they don’t like it, but that sheds no light whatever on the point at issue.”

And he took particular exception to the majority’s willingness to take guidance from foreign courts and legislatures, saying that the meaning of the Eighth Amendment should not be “determined by the subjective views of five members of this court and like-minded foreigners.”

OBERGEFELL v. HODGES, 2015

Scalia’s dissent in this landmark 5-4 case, which gave same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide, was in some ways vintage Scalia: mocking, angry and unabashedly sarcastic.

He noted bluntly that the Constitution did not mention a right to same-sex marriage before going on to lampoon the majority’s opinion _ written by Justice Anthony Kennedy _ as pretentious, egotistic and, at times, “profoundly incoherent.”

Had he joined in an opinion written like Kennedy’s, he observed wryly in one footnote, “I would hide my head in a bag.”

“Today’s decree says that my ruler, and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court,” he said at one point.

Elsewhere, he ridiculed the other side’s assertion that a couple, through marriage, can discover freedoms “such as expression, intimacy and spirituality.”

“Really?” he wrote incredulously. “Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality (whatever that means) were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think freedom of intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”

LAWRENCE v. TEXAS, 2003

Twelve years before the Obergefell decision, Scalia dissented from a seminal gay rights opinion that struck down a Texas law banning sodomy.

The 6-3 opinion in Lawrence v. Texas reversed an earlier ruling from the court, Bowers v. Hardwick, that upheld the constitutionality of a law banning gay sex acts.

While the majority decision stressed the importance of respect for personal privacy, Scalia, taking the unusual step of reading his dissent from the bench, accused his colleagues of having “taken sides in the culture war” and having largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.

He maintained that even though he had “nothing against homosexuals,” the opinion could open the door to same-sex marriage.

The decision would represent, he warned, “the end of all morals legislation.” 

Nation’s largest gay rights group endorses Hillary Clinton

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

HRC’s board of directors unanimously voted to endorse Clinton — an endorsement she will accept on Jan. 24 at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, with HRC leaders and members.

HRC said its endorsement criteria include support for issues of concern to the community, demonstrated leadership on LGBT issues and viability.

As part of that process, all candidates for president were asked to fill out a candidate questionnaire. Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley provided answers, while no Republican candidates for president returned HRC’s questionnaire.

An announcement from HRC said the “endorsement comes at a time when the stakes could not be higher for the LGBT community” and detailed achievements in the last seven years under the Obama administration.

Now, HRC said, despite the fact that a majority of Republican and Independent voters support federal protections for LGBT Americans, the leading Republican candidates for president have threatened to halt progress as well as revoke, repeal and overturn gains made during Barack Obama’s two terms.

“All the progress we have made as a nation on LGBT equality — and all the progress we have yet to make — is at stake in November,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “In most states, LGBT people are still at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services simply because of who they are. Today, 63 percent of LGBT Americans report having experienced such discrimination, and we are seeing other troubling trends, from the onslaught of state and local anti-LGBT measures to the national scourge of anti-transgender violence to backsliding on HIV/AIDS prevention and youth homelessness. Against this backdrop, we’ve heard the leading Republican presidential candidates repeatedly threaten to block our progress, and to revoke, repeal, and overturn the gains we’ve made during President Obama’s two terms.

Griffin continued, “While they fight to take us backwards, Hillary Clinton is fighting to advance LGBT equality across our nation and throughout the world. We are proud to endorse Hillary Clinton for president, and believe that she is the champion we can count on in November — and every day she occupies the Oval Office.”

The Human Rights Campaign has 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide.

Polling has shown that in 2016, LGBT equality could be a pivotal issue for the general electorate. Support for marriage equality hit a record high of 60 percent over the last year and nearly 80 percent of Americans support federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

LGBT equality is also a key decision point for voters: a 55 percent majority of Americans say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate opposed to marriage equality. This progress has been driven in great part by the growing number of Americans — now nine out of ten people — with an LGBT person in their lives.

Clinton, HRC said, has made LGBT equality a pillar of her campaign and recently unveiled the most “robust and ambitious LGBT plan any candidate for president has ever laid out.” She vowed to fight for the federal Equality Act and her detailed LGBT policy platform calls for dropping the ban on open transgender military service, outlawing dangerous “conversion therapy” for minors, ending the epidemic of transgender violence and supporting HIV prevention and affordable treatment, among other proposals.

HRC said Clinton has a long record as a champion for LGBT rights both in the United States and around the globe. As secretary of state, she declared to the United Nations that “gay rights are human rights.” In the Senate, Clinton helped lead on bills to protect LGBT workers from employment discrimination.

AP’s top 10 stories of 2015

The far-flung attacks claimed by Islamic State militants and the intensifying global effort to crush them added up to a grim, gripping yearlong saga that was voted the top news story of 2015, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The No. 2 story was the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that led to legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. But several of the other stories among the Top 10 reflected the impact of the Islamic State, while another group of major stories related to the series of mass shootings in the United States.

Among the 100 voters casting ballots, first-place votes were spread among 17 different stories. The Islamic State entry received 37 first-place votes and same-sex marriage 13. The No. 3 story — the deadly attacks in Paris in January and November — received 14 first-place votes.

A year ago, the top story in AP’s poll was the police killings of unarmed blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere — and the investigations and protests that ensued. In this year’s poll, a similar entry, with more instances of blacks dying in encounters with police, placed fifth.

The first AP top-stories poll was conducted in 1936, when editors chose the abdication of Britain’s King Edward VIII.

Here are 2015’s top 10 stories, in order:

1: ISLAMIC STATE: A multinational coalition intensified ground and air attacks against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including expanded roles for Western European countries worried about IS-backed terrorism. For its part, IS sought to demonstrate an expansive reach by its operatives and supporters, claiming to have carried out or inspired the bombing of a Russian airliner, attacks in Beirut and Paris, and the deadly shooting in San Bernardino, California.

2: GAY MARRIAGE: Fifteen years after Vermont pioneered civil unions for same-sex couples, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June enabling them to marry in all 50 states. Gay-rights activists heralded it as their movement’s biggest breakthrough, but there were flashes of disapproval. A county clerk in Kentucky, Kim Davis, spent a few days in jail after refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in her jurisdiction.

3: PARIS ATTACKS: The first attack came just a week into the new year. Two brothers who called themselves members of al-Qaida barged into the offices of the satiric newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and later attacked a Jewish market, gunning down 17 people in all. Nov. 13 brought a far deadlier onslaught: Eight Islamic State militants killed 130 people in coordinated assaults around Paris. Targets included restaurants, bars and an indoor rock concert.

4: MASS SHOOTINGS: Throughout the year, mass shootings brought grief to communities across the U.S. and deepened frustration over the failure to curtail them. There were 14 victims in San Bernardino. Nine blacks were killed by a white gunman at a Charleston, South Carolina, church; a professor and eight students died at an Oregon community college. In Chattanooga, four Marines and a sailor were killed by a Kuwaiti-born engineer; three people, including a policeman, were shot dead at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

5: BLACK DEATHS IN ENCOUNTERS WITH POLICE: In Baltimore, riots broke out after the death of Freddie Gray, a black man loaded into a van by police officers. In Chicago, Tulsa and North Charleston, South Carolina, fatal police shootings of black men prompted resignations and criminal charges. The incidents gave fuel to the Black Lives Matter campaign, and prompted several investigations of policing practices.

6: TERRORISM WORRIES: Fears about terrorism in the U.S. surged after a married couple in California — described by investigators as radicalized Muslims — carried out the attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people. The rampage inflamed an already intense debate over whether to accommodate refugees from Syria, and prompted Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump to call for a ban on Muslims coming to the U.S.

7: US ELECTION CAMPAIGN: A large and varied field of Republicans launched bids for the presidency, with billionaire Donald Trump moving out to an early lead in the polls and remaining there despite a series of polarizing statements. He helped attract record audiences for the GOP’s televised debates. In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders surprised many with a strong challenge of Hillary Clinton, but she remained the solid front-runner.

8: CLIMATE CHANGE: Negotiators from nearly 200 countries reached a first-of-its kind agreement in Paris on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Many questions remain over enforcement and implementation of the accord. But elated supporters hailed it as a critical step toward averting the grim scenario of unchecked global warming.

9: CHARLESTON CHURCH SHOOTING: A Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, suddenly turned into carnage when a white gunman opened fire, killing nine blacks, including the pastor. The alleged killer’s affinity for the Confederate flag sparked debate over the role of Civil War symbols in today’s South. In less than a month, the flag was removed from the South Carolina State House grounds.

10: EUROPE’S MIGRANT CRISIS: Fleeing war and hardship, more than 1 million migrants and refugees flooded into Europe during the year, overwhelming national border guards and reception facilities. Hundreds are believed to have drowned; 71 others were found dead in an abandoned truck in Austria. The 28-nation European Union struggled to come up with an effective, unified response.

Year in Review: Supreme Court gives marriage equality its blessing

An Alabama justice notorious for his bigotry couldn’t stop the equality avalanche.

Neither could a hypocritical county clerk in Kentucky and her allies — from conservative politicians such as Mike Huckabee to hate groups such as the Family Research Council.

In 2015, same-sex marriage became legal across the United States with a 5-4 ruling from the Supreme Court on June 26.

The morning of the decision, same-sex couples in many states where same-sex marriage had been banned headed to clerks’ offices to apply for marriage licenses and then to see officiants who could preside over their legal unions.

In a Rose Garden news conference, President Barack Obama hailed the ruling as a milestone in American justice that arrived “like a thunderbolt.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, stating that the hope of gay people intending to marry “is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Outside the court, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., sang out, “Oh, say, can you see.”

“Love wins!” boomed celebrants at Pride parades held days after the ruling.

And so many couples said, “I do.”

At the time of the decision, there were bans against gay marriage in place in 13 states.

The bans fell more easily in some states than in other states.

In Alabama, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered state courts not to implement the federal court order and fought for weeks to block marriages the way others before him had fought to retain segregation in the 1960s.

In Rowan County, clerk Kim Davis, a born-again Christian fundamentalist who has divorced three times, refused to comply with the court mandate and denied marriage licenses to gay couples. While Davis, who cited God as her guide, briefly was jailed for contempt of court, deputy clerks in her office lifted the ban.

Meanwhile, LGBT civil rights advocates continued the drive to enact non-discrimination protections at federal, state and local levels.

The federal Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, had 170 co-sponsors in the House and 39 in the Senate as the year ended.

Chad Griffin, president and CEO of the Human Rights Campaign, pointed out when lobbying for the legislation that in most states, a couple who gets married is at risk of being fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes simply for posting their wedding photos to Facebook.

In Wisconsin, activists continued to press for state protections for transgender people and to fight to hold off a Republican attempt to block school districts from enacting policies protecting transgender students.

In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. But the state does not ban discrimination based on gender identity.

Fast track to approval

Between June 26, when the Supreme Court legalized the rights of same-sex couples to marry, and Nov. 6, about 96,000 gays in the United States married, according to Gallup. UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that close to a million lesbian and gay couples living in the U.S. are married. In some liberal states, it’s estimated that up to half of all same-sex couples living together are married.

Polling in July 2015 found 55 percent of Americans approve of marriage equality. In comparison, it took until the 1990s before a majority of Americans approved of inter-racial marriages, which were made legal in 1967.

DID YOU KNOW?

At the time of the Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality, 20 other countries already allowed same-sex couples to marry in all jurisdictions. The first country to legalize same-sex marriage was the Netherlands, in 2000.

Falwell calls for an armed Christian campus

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. urged students, staff and faculty at his Christian school to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon on campus to counter any copycat attack like the deadly rampage in California.

“Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” Falwell told an estimated 10,000 of the campus community at convocation on Dec. 4 in Lynchburg. While Falwell’s call to arms was applauded, his remarks also seemed to target Muslims.

“I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” the right-wing Falwell said. The final words of his statement could not be clearly heard on a videotape of the remarks.

However, Falwell told The Associated Press he was specifically referring to Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who shot and killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino last week.

Falwell’s remarks generated a sharp rebuke from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who called the comments “reckless.”

“My administration is committed to making Virginia an open and welcoming Commonwealth, while also ensuring the safety of all of our citizens,” McAuliffe said in a statement over the weekend. “Mr. Falwell’s rash and repugnant comments detract from both of those crucial goals.”

Falwell also said he believed the campus needed to be prepared in the face of the increasing frequency of mass killings. He cited, for example, the 2007 massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and less than 100 miles southwest of Liberty.

“What if just one of those students or one of those faculty members had a concealed permit and was carrying a weapon when the shooter walked into Virginia Tech? Countless lives could have been saved,” he said.

Falwell’s message is apparently being heeded. He said more than 100 people had asked Liberty police about a free class to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Liberty was founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., architect of the contemporary Christian right and founder of the Moral Majority. His barbed commentary and campaign against LGBT people and their rights made him a reviled figure to some and a pioneering conservative crusader to others.

Following the San Bernardino shootings, which left 14 dead, Falwell said he began carrying a .25-caliber handgun in his back pocket. He said he’s had a permit for more than year.

During his address, Falwell mentioned the weapon and reached around seemingly to fetch it.

“Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know,” he said, laughing.

Asked if he was concerned by the prospect of thousands of armed young people on campus, Falwell said Virginia has a minimum age of 21 for a carry-conceal permit. He said that meant only older students would be armed.

More than 14,000 students are enrolled at Liberty.

Falwell said he had also reached out to a first responder in San Bernardino to see if the school could offer scholarship assistance to his children. 

Falwell’s remarks were first reported by the News & Advance.

7 Wisconsin companies earn perfect scores on LGBT ‘Equality Index’

Seven Wisconsin-based companies earned perfect scores on the Corporate Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization.

The index is an annual report assessing LGBT inclusion in major companies and law firms across the nation, including 15 in Wisconsin.

HRC said 407 businesses based in the United States earned a top score of 100 percent and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” HRC looked at the records of about 1,000 companies for the index.

The average score for companies and law firms based in Wisconsin was 88 percent. Of the 15 companies ranked in the state, seven earned 100 percent, four earned 90 percent or above and one earned 80 percent or above.

Seven Wisconsin-based companies earned perfect scores on the Corporate Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization.

Employer Name

2015 CEI Rating

American Family Insurance Group

100

Foley & Lardner LLP

100

ManpowerGroup

100

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance

100

Quarles & Brady LLP

100

Rockwell Automation Inc.

100

S.C. Johnson & Son Inc.

100

Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated

95

Alliant Energy Corp.

90

CUNA Mutual Insurance Group

90

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

90

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

80

Johnson Controls Inc.

60

Kohl’s Corp.

60

WEC Energy Group

60

“Corporate America has long been a leader on LGBT equality, from advocating for marriage equality to expanding essential benefits to transgender employees,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “But this year, many leading U.S. companies have broken new ground by expanding explicit non-discrimination protections to their LGBT workers around the globe. They’ve shown the world that LGBT equality isn’t an issue that stops at our own borders, but extends internationally.”

Key national findings contained in the 2016 CEI:

• 407 companies earned a 100 percent in the 2015 CEI, up from 366 in the 2015 report.

• 511 companies participating in this year’s CEI now offer transgender workers at least one health care plan that has transgender-inclusive coverage. That’s a 150 percent increase since 2012, when the CEI first included trans-inclusive health care as a requisite for companies to receive a perfect score;

• Gender identity is now part of non-discrimination policies at 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies, up from just 3 percent in 2002;

• More than 330 major employers have adopted supportive inclusion guidelines for transgender workers who are transitioning.

• And 176 Fortune 500 companies were given unofficial scores based on publicly available information

In ranking companies, HRC looked at five broad categories:

  1. Non-discrimination policies
  2. Employment benefits
  3. Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion
  4. Public commitment to LGBT equality
  5. Responsible citizenship

Utah reviewing judge’s order removing baby from home of lesbian parents

Utah state child welfare officials are reviewing a ruling by a juvenile court judge who ordered a baby to be taken from lesbian foster parents and instead placed with a heterosexual couple for the child’s well-being.

Judge Scott Johansen’s order earlier this week in the central Utah city of Price raised concerns at the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, agency spokeswoman Ashley Sumner said.

Its attorneys plan to review the decision and determine what options they have to possibly challenge the order.

The ruling came during a routine hearing for April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce. They are part of a group of same-sex married couples who were allowed to become foster parents in Utah after last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal across the country, Sumner said.

Attempts to reach Hoagland and Peirce on Wednesday were unsuccessful, but the couple told KUTV (http://bit.ly/1Sjph1o) that they are distraught after the ruling that calls for the baby girl they have been raising for three months to be taken away within a week.

They said Johansen cited research that children do better when they are raised by heterosexual couples. Hoagland believes the judge actually imposed his religious beliefs.

“We are shattered,” she told the Salt Lake City TV station. “It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Johansen is precluded by judicial rules from discussing pending cases, Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

A full transcript of his ruling has not been made public and may not be because court records of cases involving foster children are kept private to protect the kids, Sumner said.

Sumner said she can’t speak to specifics of the case but confirmed that the couple’s account of the ruling is accurate – the judge’s decision was based on the couple being lesbians. The agency isn’t aware of any other issues with their performance as foster parents.

The agency is tasked with trying to keep children with one family as long as the parents are providing adequate care.

All couples are screened before becoming foster parents.

“We just want sharing, loving families for these kids,” Sumner said. “We don’t really care what that looks like.”

The ruling triggered a heated response from the Human Rights Campaign. The LGBT rights group called the order shocking, outrageous and unjust.

Houston voters reject equal rights ordinance

Houston voters on Nov. 3 failed to affirm an ordinance that would have secured protections from discrimination for the people of the fourth largest city in the country.

The measure, Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which appeared on the ballot on Election Day, fell short of a majority vote.

The ordinance would have prohibited discrimination in places of employment, city contracting, housing, public accommodations and private employment at businesses on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity and pregnancy.

American Civil Liberties Union national political director Karin Johanson, said, “The work in Houston must continue until everyone is protected from discrimination. Houston continues to be the only major American city without a law protecting its residents from discrimination. As a result, the only protection Houstonians have is a costly federal lawsuit. In the case of LGBT Houstonians there are no explicit protections at the federal or state level. A strong local coalition will continue to work to end discrimination against all Houstonians and the ACLU will support them.”

ACLU of Texas executive director Terri Burke added, “It’s a tragedy that Houston remains the only major city in Texas—indeed, the last big city in the United States — that does not extend equal rights protections to all of its residents and visitors. Those of us who have worked to bring equality to Houston will continue the fight to ensure that everyone can live fairly and equally under the law. The next mayor and newly elected members of Houston’s city council must prioritize the passage of a new equal rights ordinance as quickly as possible.”

The city council approved Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance in May 2014, but enforcement was placed on hold pending the outcome of the citizens’ vote on Election Day.

Kenneth D. Upton Jr., senior sounsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas, said after the election, “We knew this vote would be an uphill battle and we witnessed the opponents of HERO pull out all the stops, launching a campaign full of distortions and fear-mongering designed to mislead and confuse voters.

“But we also saw an impressive coming together of the Houston business, faith and civic communities in Houston Unites, which campaigned tirelessly in support of HERO and for ensuring that all Houstonians can live their lives and provide for their families without fear of discrimination. Sadly, the ugly and divisive tactics of the opponents of HERO succeeded in persuading a majority of Houstonians to vote no. But we have faced disappointments before that did not stop us — this fight for fairness is far from over.”

The coalition that makes up Houston Unites includes the ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, NAACP Houston Branch, Texas Freedom Network, Freedom for All Americans and the Human Rights Campaign.

The coaliton’s statement read, in part, “Although Houston won’t yet join the 200 other cities that have similar nondiscrimination measures, the fight continues. We will continue telling the stories of Houstonians whose lives would be better off because of HERO – including people of color, people of faith, veterans who have served our country, women, and gay and transgender people.”

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.