Two years after a Kentucky county clerk stirred national attention for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a family court judge in the same state announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents, calling his stance on the issue “a matter of conscience.”

Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties in Kentucky, issued an order Thursday saying he believes that allowing a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would “under no circumstance” promote the best interest of the child, he wrote in the order obtained by The Washington Post.

The judge disqualified himself from any adoption cases involving gay couples, citing judicial ethics codes requiring that judges recuse themselves whenever they have a “personal bias or prejudice” concerning a case. Nance’s “conscientious objection” to the concept of gay parents adopting children constitutes such a bias, he argued.

The announcement garnered support from some conservative groups, while also spurring intense criticism from some lawyers and judicial ethics experts who viewed the blanket statement as discriminatory, and a sign that Nance is not fit to fulfill his duties as a judge. 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.

Judge Nance is free to believe what he wants.  However, he has to do his job according to the laws of both Kentucky and the United States of America.  If he cannot, then he needs to step down.  You can’t cherry-pick the law.   The problem with just recusing himself is that other people have to pick up the slack.

What other biases does he have that might preclude fairness on the bench?  Do his colleagues agree to trade off cases so everyone has the same work load?  Is this a new equal pay for equal work question?

Interesting things to follow regarding this case.


3 Thoughts to “Kentucky Judge refuses to hear adoption cases involving gay parents”

  1. Steve Thomas

    “You can’t cherry-pick the law”

    Tell that to the Federal judges, state and local judges, elected officials, and sheriffs who cherry pick immigration law.

    But I would ask you to consider this: imagine being a same-sex couple, seeking to adopt a child. Who would you rather have handling your case? A judge who harbors no objections to your orientation, life-style or union, or one who does? A “fair judge” is also one who will recuse themselves if there is a pre-existing prejudice to the parties involved in the case. Kind of hard to be impartial, when you strongly object on religious grounds. What if there were some other disqualifying factor in the case, other than the orientation of the applicants, and the judge’s opposition to same-sex marriages was known? I don’t know what you would choose, but for me, I’d want a more favorable, less pre-disposed judge to handle my case. His recusual ensures that such hypothetical couples would receive fair treatment.

    There was a recent case in Arkansas, where a judge expressed his opposition to the death penalty. The state wisely removed him from any capital case where the death-penalty was a possible sentence. Same logic applies.

  2. Watching

    Look at the picture, this is an old white guy. They and their beliefs like this are on the way out, it’s just a matter of time. This is analogous to those that fought against marrying mixed-race couples, which seems so ridiculous and archaic today. Perhaps we should just let him recuse himself in peace so he can be protected in his fading morally superior bubble. I personally know a lot of same-sex couples that have wonderful children and a happy life. I am not quite sure what he is afraid of.

    1. I just think people need to step down if doing their job is so morally offensive to them.

      I feel the same way about retail. If your religion or personal beliefs make you feel your value system has been compromised if asked to sell alcohol, pork, cigarettes, etc. then you are in the wrong job. You need to change, not the rest of us.

      I just watched the Loving movie. How sad and to think that those folks lived right down the road from where I attended college. I think I must have been so vapid in those days I didn’t realize that interracial marriage was illegal.

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