A Kentucky judge who refused to hear cases involving gay and lesbian parents just announced his resignation.
In April, Mitchell Nance, a family court judge in rural Kentucky, issued an order requiring lawyers representing gay and lesbian parents in adoption cases to notify him of their clients’ sexuality so that he could recuse himself in advance.
In his order, he said that he believes that “the best interest of the child” can never “be promoted by the adoption by a practicing homosexual.” He cited a state rule that requires judges to recuse themselves in cases where their prejudice affects their impartiality. Gay and lesbian parents would have to get the county court to hire a special judge to handle their cases.
Nance submitted his order to the state supreme court for approval and it was rejected by the chief justice. Local LGBTQ activists called on him to resign and filed a complaint with the judicial disciplinary panel, and he was charged with violating judicial ethics rules.
In his response to the complaint, Nance’s lawyer wrote that he thought he was doing the right thing and being fair to everyone by announcing his prejudice. “His recusal would have facilitated the impartiality of the judicial system and ensured that all families had a fair opportunity for adoption.”
His response goes on to state that it’s his “sincerely held religious belief” that “the divinely created order of nature is that each human being has a male parent and a female parent.”
He stated in the response that the charges against him are moot since he’s resigning. He also sent a resignation letter to governor Matt Bevin.
Usually homophobes cherry-pick a few studies with small samples and that don’t compare gay and lesbian parents with straight parents on equal footing. Simply admitting that they have no reason to believe what they do outside of personal prejudice is a strange strategy, to say the least.
Maybe Nance knew the evidence just wasn’t on his side. In 2004, the American Psychological Association found that an unbiased examination of the social science literature about gay and lesbian parents showed that they do just as well as straight parents when it comes to measurable, objective outcomes.
Whether children raised by gay parents do well in school or have good mental health later in life are facts that have nothing to do with anyone’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Nance’s position is logically untenable, his order put an unreasonable burden on gay and lesbian parents, and resigning will give him some time to reflect on what it means when his “sincerely held religious beliefs” are not supported by real-world evidence.