Kentucky Judge Who Refused To Hear Gay Adoption Cases Resigns

W. Mitchell Nance excused himself from hearing same-sex adoption cases because of his faith.

LOUISVILLE (Reuters) - A Kentucky judge who made national headlines earlier this year for his refusal to hear adoption cases involving gay, lesbian or bisexual adults has resigned, a state commission announced on Thursday.

In a filing to the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission on Wednesday, Judge W. Mitchell Nance submitted his resignation, which will take effect on Dec. 16.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed a complaint last May with the commission after Nance recused himself from hearing adoption cases involving same-sex couples because of his religious beliefs.

Nance’s position echoes that of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who became a national symbol of opposition to gay marriage after refusing a federal judge’s order to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

One of the parties to the complaint, Louisville, Kentucky-based Fairness Campaign advocacy group that focuses on preventing discrimination, said Nance had proven he could not be impartial when it came to LGBTQ people and their families.

“I hope this sends a message to judges across the country that if their conscience conflicts with their duty, they must leave the bench,” the group’s director Chris Hartman said in a statement.

According to the Kentucky commission documents filed on Wednesday, Nance cannot grant adoptions to same-sex couples because of his belief that “the divinely created order of nature is that each human being has a male parent and a female parent.”

But Nance had no problem amending custodial issues in cases in which a same-sex couple already had a parent-child relationship, the documents note, nor did he have an issue presiding over domestic violence orders involving gay or lesbian couples.

Nance serves as a family court judge in Barren and Metcalfe counties in southern Kentucky, about 100 miles south of Louisville.