A Texas judge has quit the Republican Party, after he was criticised for officiating a same-sex wedding.
Justice Terry Jennings has sat on the Texas First Court of Appeals as a Republican since 2001, winning re-election in the conservative state twice.
But Jennings has now stepped away from the party, opting to become a Democrat after growing concerned about the increasingly extreme views in the GOP.
According to the Houston Post, Jennings began seriously considering leaving the Republicans after he officiated a same-sex wedding earlier this year.
The judge recalled that when others brought up Republican stances on same-sex weddings, “that’s when I started thinking, well maybe I’m not in the right party then”.
Earlier this year, the Texas GOP passed an official policy claiming that “homosexuality is a chosen behaviour” that is “contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths” of the Bible.
Jennings told the Post: “It’s just a party I didn’t feel comfortable being a member of anymore.
“You’ve heard the common expression a thousand times: I didn’t leave my party; my party left me. And it’s true.”
He announced his switch in a speech at a local Democratic event, becoming the only Democrat on the Appeals court.
“My values and principles have not changed since 2000, but those of the Republican party have.
He said: “Over the years, I have watched this great nation, in all its diversity, grow richer and stronger. In 2008, I was excited when we elected our first black president. Too many Republicans were not.
“As the father of two daughters, and the son of a woman born before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, I am equally excited that we are about to elect our first woman president. Too many Republicans are not.
“I appreciate and embrace that we are a nation of immigrants, of individuals of many different faiths and ethnicities — all one people under our” Constitution — all of whom are guaranteed equal protection under the law. Too many Republicans do not.”