Judge refuses to perform same-sex weddings because she doesn’t want to offend God
A Republican “Bible-believing” Texas judge has been refusing to perform same-sex weddings, and she has gotten away with a public warning.
McLennan County justice of the peace Dianne Hensley told the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct that even though marriage equality was legalised in 2015, she had taken matters into her own hands based on her “conscience and religion”.
In Texas, justices of the peace do not have to perform weddings, but by doing so they can bring in extra income. Many judges chose not to perform weddings at all after same-sex marriage was legalised.
However, Hensley has been continuing to perform only opposite-sex weddings since the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.
She has previously spoken about refusing to perform same-sex marriages in an article for the Waco Tribune-Herald in 2017, in which she said: “I’m entitled to accommodations just as much as anyone else.”
She also told 25 News KXXV: “I have no desire to offend anybody but the last person I want to offend is God.”
The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct made its warning to Hensley public on Monday (December 2).
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The warning stated: “Beginning on about August 1, 2016, Judge Hensley and her court staff began giving all same-sex couples wishing to be married by Judge Hensley a document which stated ‘I’m sorry, but Judge Hensley has a sincerely held religious belief as a Christian, and will not be able to perform any same sex weddings.’
“The document contained a list of local persons who would officiate a same-sex wedding.”
It added that Hensley “should be publicly warned for casting doubt on her capacity to act impartially to persons appearing before her as a judge due to the person’s sexual orientation”.
Hensley now has 30 days to appeal the sanction.
Executive director of the Texas Justice Court Training Center, Thea Whalen, told the Houston Chronicle: “If you’re going to perform marriages, you must perform marriages for everyone.”
Tara Pohlmeyer, spokeswoman for Progress Texas, said she was glad Hensley was disciplined, but added: “LGBTQIA individuals deserve and have now protected rights. They are allowed to marry whomever they love, and any judge that is not following that law should not be a judge.”