FORT PAYNE, Ala. — An appeals court in Alabama has rejected a lesbian’s request to have a judge who also serves as a pastor removed from her divorce proceedings against her husband.
Tiara Lycans desires to divorce her husband, Zachary Lycans, and wants the court to grant her custody of their child. However, she is unhappy with the judge assigned to her case, who she says has “publicly expressed belief that homosexual relationships and marriages are contrary to God’s Law.”
DeKalb Circuit Court Judge Shaunathan Bell has served as a minister at Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Fort Payne for 15 years and regularly shares Scripture and Christian-themed exhortation on the Twitter page that he shares with his wife.
“Who cares that you can quote the entire Bible, if you live like you’ve never read it,” he re-tweeted on June 13.
“The Church does not exist for you. You are the Church existing for God’s glory through His mission to reach everyone else,” Bell also re-tweeted on April 17.
Lycans says that because of Bell’s beliefs, she doesn’t think she has a very good chance of being awarded custody of their child. The judge has thus far granted joint custody alternating weekly.
Lycans has sought Bell’s recusal, filing two motions about the matter, but the requests were denied. She then filed with the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, but on Thursday, it too rejected the effort. It noted that Bell had likewise granted joint custody in two other cases where the woman identified as a homosexual.
Public reaction to the matter has been mixed.
“Considering Alabama’s historical animosity to the civil rights of lesbian and gay citizens—especially by its judiciary—I think Ms. Lycans has real reason to worry that she might not receive equal treatment under the law,” one commenter wrote.
“SCOTUS Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan all made very public pronouncements in support of same sex marriage and then declined to recuse themselves when a case that resulted in the legalization of SSM nationwide came before them. The three judges prejudged,” another stated.
“The question is not what did the judge do in cases involving lesbian litigants, but what did the judge do in all cases. If the decision is in line with other cases, then the allegations are baseless,” a third stated. “Take the lesbian-ness out of the equation, take the religion out of the equation, just base the cases on merit alone.”
“Seems that she got a reasonable verdict from the judge,” another opined.