Judge in gay adoption case wanted ethics charges dismissed. He got a hearing instead.

W. Mitchell Nance
W. Mitchell Nance Glasgow Daily Times

Kentucky’s judicial conduct panel has scheduled a hearing on ethics charges against a judge who objected to handling adoption cases involving gay parents.

Judge W. Mitchell Nance submitted his resignation after the Judicial Conduct Commission charged him.

Nance’s attorneys asked the commission to dismiss the charges in light of his resignation, but the hearing date announced Monday indicates that the commission has not done that.

The commission scheduled a hearing for Nance on Dec. 15 in Lexington — the day before Nance said his resignation will take effect.

Nance, a family court judge for Barren and Metcalfe counties, issued an order in April requiring lawyers to notify him if they had an adoption case involving a gay parent or same-sex couple so he could recuse himself from the case.

Nance said his religious convictions prevented him from handling such cases because adoption of a child by a “practicing homosexual” would never be in the child’s best interest.

The commission charged Nance’s order violated several ethics provisions.

Those included rules that require judges to uphold high standards of conduct, comply with the law and act in ways that promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, as well as a rule barring judges from showing bias or prejudice based on sexual orientation or other characteristics.

Several groups that advocate for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people filed a complaint against Nance over his order.

The groups have argued that Nance’s decision not to handle adoptions involving gay people promoted debunked stereotypes that they cannot be good parents.