A Fayette County Family Court judge who routinely presides over gay adoptions said that gay marriage is an “oxymoron” like “jumbo shrimp” or a “magnificent Chihuahua.”
Appearing before a religious group, Fayette Circuit Court Judge Tim Philpot said he loves homosexuals but their relationships are “sterile” and “just entertainment.”
Addressing the Francis Asbury Society in Wilmore, Ky., on Sept. 8, Philpot called the Supreme Court’s decision last year legalizing gay marriage “pretty close to insane” and warned that “there is no question that polygamy is on the way.”
Philpot, a former state senator, said that the worst impact of gay marriage is its effect on children.
“Now kids not only have to decide which girl to date, or which boy to date, they’ve got to decide which gender to date,” he said, according to a video of his appearance posted on the society’s website. “There is not a 12-year-old or 13year-old or a 14-year-old in Fayette County, Ky., that doesn’t have to decide ‘Am I gay or am I straight?’ Man, I’m telling you, that is some kind of abuse.”
Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said in an email that Philpot “clearly has a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be LGBT, chalking it up to some arbitrary choice children must make. Personally, I would never want Mr. Philpot making decisions about my family, given the fact he has deep disrespect for LGBT people and their families.”
In an email, Philpot said, 'My views on the deep spiritual nature of marriage have never stopped me from following the law and being fair to all people, including those who identify themselves as LGBT.”
Lexington lawyers who have represented gay clients in Philpot’s court say he has been fair to them.
Ross Ewing, who said he’s represented hundreds of people before Philpot, said: “I have never seen him base a decision on a litigant’s sexual orientation. He has always looked at the facts of each case and ruled accordingly.”
Keith Elston, who has handled gay adoptions in Philpot’s court, said he has asked “a few more questions of gay and lesbian clients than he asks to some of the straight clients I have had” but that none of them were “out of bounds or appear to reflect his personal biases.”
Josh Mers, chairman of Lexington Fairness, said he had never heard of anyone being discriminated against in Philpot’s court because they are gay or lesbian.
Elston said he is concerned about some of Philpot’s statements “but he has a right to say whatever he wants to say.”
Federal courts, including in Kentucky, have ruled in recent years that judges and judicial candidates have a First Amendment right to express their opinions as long as they don’t promise to rule a certain way on a specific case.
Martin Cothran, an analyst with the Family Foundation of Kentucky, said it would be a “double standard of mammoth proportions” for same-sex marriage supporters to complain about Philpot’s public comments when the late U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II, after striking down gay marriage bans in Kentucky, defended his ruling in a public debate with Cothran.
In his email, Philpot said he has been speaking about marriage to promote his new novel, 'Judge Z: Irretrievably Broken,' about the death of straight marriage in the United States. 'As I say in the book more than once, the greatest tragedy is not that gay people want to get married — it is that straight people don’t want to get married,' he said.
Speaking before the Asbury Society, which advocates “absolute surrender and obedience to Jesus Christ” and is not affiliated with Asbury Theological Seminary, Philpot said “half the adoptions I do are for gay people. And they’re not bad people.”
He also said “homosexual sin” is no worse than “heterosexual sin” and that the latter may be worse because of the millions of babies straight people “bring into this world who are neglected and abused by parents who don’t care.”
But Philpot said in his 25-minute talk that gay marriage is “really very illogical … kind of like a dog show I was watching a few years ago where the announcer said that was a magnificent Chihuahua. Those words don’t make sense to me.”
Philpot, who ministers several times a week to men, said his “biggest bugaboo with the whole thing” is how it has affected friendships between straight men.
“I meet with men four or five times a week and we hug; we love each other at a certain level,” he said. “I don’t hug the way I used to.”
He said that shortly after the Supreme Court’s marriage decision in June 2015, he was at a Starbucks “when it really hit me like a ton of bricks. There was a man there, probably 45 years old. He had his arm around a young man who was about 20, and I would say there was a 90 percent chance it was just a father and son, but I had this moment when I thought – hmmm – I wonder what’s going on. They’re getting a little too close. They are making me uncomfortable.”
Philpot also bemoaned that homosexuals had “stolen” one of the Bible’s greatest symbols, the rainbow.
“I’m gonna put one on the back of my car because I’m not going to let them steal it,” he said. “I’m gonna take it back. I’m gonna drive around town with my rainbow and my 8-pound shorky (a Shih Tzu and a Yorkshire terrier mix) and let them think what they want.”
Philpot’s position on gay marriage is no secret. In 1998, after he was appointed to the bench by Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher, he said in an interview with the Herald-Leader that the gay lifestyle was a “destructive lifestyle” and that it is a “behavior, it’s not genetic.”
In 2013, in a Herald-Leader op-ed piece, he denounced a federal court ruling in California throwing out that state’s gay marriage ban and the Supreme Court’s ruling invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act. Retired federal judge Jennifer Coffman complained in a follow- up column that Philpot, by “opining on cases that aren’t in his court,” had violated the duty of a judge to remain unbiased and took “several risks, not the least of which is that he could be wrong.”
In his talk before the Asbury Society, Philpot said he was offended by the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling in 2015 because the court said “there is no rational basis for you to think that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
“The Supreme Court telling me I’m irrational – I’m sort of offended by that,” he said. “Now, if my wife wants to tell me that, it is very often true.”
In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court avoided deciding if the government has a 'rational basis' for barring same-sex couples from marrying. Instead, it said the 14th Amendment guarantees that right as a fundamental liberty and that prohibiting it would deny same-sex couples equal protection under the law.