One Alabama mother believes the judge handling her divorce case should be disqualified because of his personal views on homosexuality.
Tiara Brooke Lycans, a lesbian seeking divorce from her husband, Zachary Thomas Lycans, has twice asked DeKalb Circuit Court Judge Shaunathan C. Bell to recuse himself from her case, but he has declined both times, AL.com reported.
As a result, Lycans petitioned the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, which in turn denied her recusal request.
Lycans argued Bell, a political conservative and Baptist preacher of 15 years, has “publicly expressed belief that homosexual relationships and marriages are contrary to God’s Law.” She believes Bell’s stance on same-sex marriage could negatively impact her chances of winning custody of the child she and her husband share.
In his initial pending ruling on custody, Bell granted joint physical custody of the child, alternating weekly between Lycans and her husband. The appeals court noted that Bell had ruled the same way in two other divorce cases involving lesbian mothers.
This latest dustup comes several months after the Wyoming Supreme Court censured a state municipal judge for saying — in response to a hypothetical question — that she would not perform a same-sex wedding ceremony.
In December 2014, a local Wyoming reporter asked Judge Ruth Neely if she was “excited” about performing gay marriages. In response, Neely explained she had never performed a same-sex wedding ceremony and mentioned her Christian belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.
The journalist, writing for the Pinedale Roundup, later called the judge, offering not to publish the story if Neely would “state a willingness to perform same-sex marriages.” Needless to say, the story was posted and a few weeks later, Neely was charged with four ethical violations.
And in a letter to the state’s judicial ethics advisory committee, Neely wrote: “Homosexuality is a named sin in the Bible, as are drunkenness, thievery, lying, and the like. I can no more officiate at a same-sex wedding than I can buy beer for the alcoholic.”
On March 7, in a 3-2 decision, the Wyoming Supreme Court censured Neely, instructing the municipal judge to either “perform marriage ceremonies regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation” or decline to perform weddings all together.
“No judge can turn down a request to perform a marriage for reasons that undermine the integrity of the judiciary by demonstrating a lack of independence and impartiality,” the ruling stated.