As a 'matter of conscience,' Kentucky judge refuses to hear adoption cases involving gay parents

Posted at 8:26 AM, May 01, 2017

GLASGOW, Ky. -- A family court judge in the Bluegrass State has announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents.

Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties just east of Bowling Green, issued an order Thursday stating that allowing a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would “under no circumstance” be in the best interests of a child, according to The Washington Post.

Kentucky state law permits gay couples to adopt children, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that all states must allow same-sex marriage.

Nance cited ethical rules ordering judges to recuse themselves when they may have a personal bias or prejudice. Nance told the local newspaper he issued the order so there wouldn’t be a lag if an adoption case were filed in his court concerning adoption by gay parents.

“I don’t have any plans to recuse myself from any so it should not affect the ability of any same-sex couples to adopt in Barren or Metcalfe counties,” the judge of the other division, Judge John T. Alexander, told The Glasgow Daily Times.

It hasn’t been two years since Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis made national headlines for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even going to jail for a short period as she stood up for what she viewed as her religious freedom.

Now, Nance’s decision is also drawing support from conservative groups like the Lexington-based Family Foundation of Kentucky.

"If we are going to let liberal judges write their personal biases and prejudices into law, as we have done on issues of marriage and sexuality, then, in the interest of fairness, we are going to have to allow judges with different views to at least recuse themselves from such cases," Family Foundation spokesman Martin Cothran said in the news release.

On the other hand, Kentucky Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman told the Glasgow Daily Times it was "clear discrimination.”

“If Judge Nance can’t perform the basic functions of his job, which are to deliver impartiality, fairness and justice to all families in his courtroom, then he shouldn’t be a judge,” Hartman said.