A Kentucky family court judge who refused to hear cases involving same-sex parents because he believes “allowing a gay person to adopt could never be in the child’s best interest” has been publicly rebuked by a judicial oversight committee. He’ll also be out of a job by the end of the week.
Judge W. Mitchell Nance made the comments earlier this year, and his only punishment at the time was to be taken off cases involving same-sex parents. But that was it. He could still hear other cases despite his open bigotry.
In what other position — a government position, no less — would this sort of discrimination be acceptable? Could a public school teacher say “I don’t want to teach openly gay children because I believe they’re rebelling against God” and, instead of being fired, be assigned classes with no gay students? It was an absurd accommodation to make for any judge. If an atheist judge said he felt religious parents were inherently inferior because they were brainwashing their children, would he be recused from those cases? (And does anyone seriously think the Religious Right would settle for anything less than a firing?)
Nance’s beliefs also raised other questions, like whether he should be allowed to make decisions in cases involving divorce. What about cases where the parents were openly liberal and supportive of LGBT rights? Would he ever give them a fair hearing?Apparently not, according to attorneys who have argued in front of him.
Attorneys say he also asked divorce litigants where they go to church and whether they are a true believer.
That’s why it’s welcome news that Kentucky’s Judicial Conduct Commission has found Nance guilty of misconduct. Nance said several months ago that he would be resigning by the end of the year, perhaps in response to this investigation, but the reprimand at least means he won’t get to retire on his own terms. (One member of the commission called on Nance to be removed from office a day before his “retirement” — seemingly as a public rebuke for his bigotry — but that won’t happen.)
At least Nance won’t be hearing any more cases. His impartiality has been hampered by faith-based Christian hate and it’s long past time he stopped hearing cases. The state needs to get rid of these bigots who refuse to do their taxpayer-funded jobs.
(Image via Shutterstock. Large portions of this article were published earlier)