LGBT advocates protest Barren County judge who recused self from adoption cases involving homosexuals

05/10/2017 05:34 PM

GLASGOW – Dozens of LGBT advocates assembled outside the Barren County Courthouse to protest Family Court Judge Mitchell Nance, who issued a blanket order last month recusing himself from all adoption cases involving homosexuals.

Nance, who oversees cases in Barren and Metcalfe counties, signed an order April 27 that recused himself from such adoption cases, citing his belief that children would not benefit from adoption by a homosexual person or same-sex couple.

“People are understandably outraged, to use his words, to say a ‘practicing homosexual’ can’t possibly be a good caregiver, a provider for children in Kentucky that need a home,” said Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign that organized the protest.

“It’s ludicrous, it’s offensive, it’s discriminatory, and it also sets a dangerous precedent for other folks to think about LGBT parents as unfit parents, which we know from decades of research is not the case.”

Chadwick Shockley, a Glasgow native, said he was offended by Nance’s stance on the ability of homosexual individuals and couples to raise kids, saying he and his husband have raised “three successful, bright, educated, loving, kind-hearted children.” They are his husband’s biological children, he said.

Shockley says his mother graduated from Glasgow High School with Nance, and he knows the judge through his work as a legal consultant at a local law firm for 16 years. In fact, Shockley described Nance as “a long-time friend of our family” and said he and Nance recently had a friendly conversation in town just before the judge issued his recusal order.

“If he can’t carry out his job duties, he needs to step down,” Shockley said, “and if he’s not willing to step down he needs to be dismissed.”

“I know that he may have personal views about what flavor cheesecake he likes, but he shouldn’t judge Nancy over here because she likes a different flavor, and he shouldn’t say such a horrible thing about me personally when I think that I’ve been an average to good parent and certainly my husband has been an excellent father,” he added.

Family Court Judge John Alexander, who serves alongside Nance in the 43rd Circuit, has agreed to take same-sex adoption cases that Nance has refused to hear. Without Alexander, Hartman said same-sex couples “would be displaced and have to go to neighboring counties to find a family court judge willing to grant their adoption.”

Hartman says if a judicial ethics complaint is filed against Nance, he believes the judge may be forced to vacate his seat on the bench. He also says he believes that the situation demonstrates a need for a statewide law protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination.

“It comes back to the basic principle of do your job, and he’s indicated that he can no longer do his job,” Hartman said of Nance.

Video by Spectrum News’ Chris Bratton.
Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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