Kentucky judge fired over frequent recusal of himself from LGBT cases

Judge Mitchell W. Nance and former Kentucky County clerk have two things in common. Both of them have held elective offices in the state, and both have refused to do their job when LGBT issues were involved. Kim Davis spent time in jail for contempt of court over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples after the supreme court decision legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, and Judge Nance routinely recused himself from cases that involved LGBTQI individuals seeking to adopt a child.

While Kim Davis still holds elected office, Judge Nance faced more severe repercussions to his employment. The state fired him for his refusal to do his job. Nance, like Davis, cites sincerely held religious as the reason he continually recuses himself from LGBTQI adoption cases. The judge and his supporters claim he is following a judicial principle that says judges should recuse themselves in cases where they have a personal bias.

A spokesman for the state says the judge acted correctly, but the issue came about because Nance served in a family court. The number of cases he recused himself from routinely prevented him from doing his job. If he cannot do his job, the state argues, he should not continue to serve as a family court judge.

Kentucky allows same-sex parents to adopt, although many other states have attempted to adopt measures preventing same-sex couples from adopting. Many couples are prevented from adopting children because many orphanages are run by religious institutions. United States law carves wide exemptions for organizations that are founded and run by religious orders.

Professor Jeffrey Sharman of DePaul University told the Courier Journal that such frequent recusal could indicate that Nance cannot faithfully perform his office. If Nance is moved from family court to another position, we may also have to recuse himself from any cases involving LGBTQI individuals to remain consistent.

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