A Wilkinson County judge who in 2007 attempted to strip custody of a 7-year old girl from a lesbian because he believed homosexuality is immoral recently resigned after an ethics probe was opened to look into allegations he "allowed the prestige of his office to advance his private interests."

Superior Court Judge John Lee Parrott, 63, of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit turned in his notice of resignation to Gov. Nathan Deal on May 19; it was effective immediately. Parrott served 24 years on the bench.

Ga. judge involved in 2007 controversial lesbian custody dispute resigns over ethics probe

“He was a mighty good judge and served for a long time,” Monticello attorney Roy Robinson Kelly III, who represented Parrott during the proceedings, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Whatever that document says, the document says.”

According to documents filed with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, Parrott opted to resign rather than go through a formal hearing on allegations of judicial misconduct. The documents state:

This matter originated before the Judicial Qualifications Commission (Commission)with various reports concerning allegations of judicial misconduct on the part of Superior Court Judge John Lee Parrott (“Parrott”). The Commission commenced an inquiry after receiving complaints of possible violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Commission’s inquiry focused upon various allegations of judicial misconduct, including: whether the judge allowed the prestige of his office to advance his private interests.

Prior to voting to hold a formal hearing, this matter was concluded between Parrott and the Commission with a mutually agreed upon disposition … dated May 19, 2012.

Parrott made national headlines in 2007 when he denied Elizabeth Hadaway, a lesbian mother, custody of her daughter, Emma Rose, because he believed homosexuality was immoral. 

The girl, Emma Rose, had been living with Hadaway for some time after Emma Rose’s biological mother, a truck driver, asked Hadaway to care for her daughter and adopt her. In 2006, Hadaway was given legal custody of Emma Rose by a different Ocmulgee judge.

Hadaway then sought to get a permanent adoption petition and the case was moved to Parrott’s court. When Parrott learned Hadaway was a lesbian, he denied the petition and ordered the girl removed from her home and placed in foster care before being returned to her biological mother.

In his ruling, Parrott essentially stated it was illegal for Hadaway to adopt because she was not part of a legally married couple and cited the 2004 state constitutional amendment passed by Georgia voters. The amendment defines marriage as only between a man and a woman and that no union between two people of the same sex shall be recognized by the state as entitled to the benefits of marriage.

“[T]he Petitioner has factually based her suitability for the care and custody of the young child upon the suitability of the homosexual couple and has requested this same sex couple be treated legally, in effect the same as marriage,” Parrott wrote.

Parrott also wrote, “inevitably the child will witness both directly and circumstantially the homosexual activity of [Hadaway] and her same-sex partner. Homosexuality is “undesirable conduct” and Parrott also stated in is ruling that living with gay parents would stigmatize Emma Rose.

Read Parrott’s original petition denying custody here.

Hadaway and her partner broke up and Hadaway moved to Bibb County to try again to adopt Emma Rose. Parrott cited her for contempt of court.

The ACLU became involved and worked to ensure Hadaway and Emma Rose would be reunited legally. On March 24, 2008, the Georgia Court of Appeals overturned Hadaway’s contempt of court conviction. Emma Rose and Elizabeth Hadaway were reunited in the spring of 2007 after Emma spent three months in foster care