Houston attorney Jim Evans was appointed 507th Family Court associate judge on January 1,2017, making him the first openly gay man to serve as a judge in family court in Texas. “There are openly LGBT judges in the criminal and civil courts,” Evans says. “But this is a first for Texas.” In fact, he is the 12th openly LGBT judge in the state.
For the LGBT community, it is an important step for family courts to address deeply personal issues such as adoption, custody, property distribution, and child support for the LGBT community.
Judge Evans will be serving under newly-elected Democrat Julia Maldonado, who won 52% of the Harris County vote. The associate judge position is appointed by the district judge upon taking office to assist in handling the court’s caseload.
Evans ran as a Democrat for the 308th Family District Court in 2014. Having won the Democrat primary, he lost in the general election to the Republican candidate. During the campaign, the Houston Chronicle endorsed Evans saying, “A graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, Evans, 47, has a pastor’s compassion that comes from working as a Baptist minister, not to mention a master’s degree in religious studies. A personal experience of perceived discrimination against Evans and his husband in the family courts led Evans to run for a position on the bench. He brings his decade of legal experience to bear on his passion for more equitable courts.”
It was important to Evans to have an openly gay person on the bench because, he said, none of the Republican family court judges in Harris County would grant an adoption in a case where the prospective parent is an “out” gay or lesbian. He wanted to change the negative treatment that gays and lesbians received in the Harris County family court system.
Evans graduated from Houston Baptist University, majoring in Spanish and history. After graduating from college, Evans went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth to earn a master of education degree. In2000, Evans entered the University of Houston School of Law, where he was in the top 10% of his class and selected to write for the school’s law review. He graduated law school in 2003.
In 2007, Evans came out as gay. A year later, he began pursuing his passion for family law. Then, he married his love William Flowers in 2010 in Connecticut.
See Wolf, Brandon, Houstonian Becomes First Openly Gay Family-Court Judge in Texas, Out Smart: Houston’s LGBT Magazine February 1, 2007, http://www.outsmartmagazine.com/2017/02/houstonian-becomes-first-openly-gay-family-court-judge-in-texas/ .