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Law

Texas judge sues for right to only marry straight couples because God finds gay weddings ‘offensive’

Nick Duffy December 18, 2019
judge refusing to perform same-sex marriages

Dianne Hensley has received a public warning from the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. (25 News KXXV/ YouTube)

A Texas judge who claims that God thinks same-sex weddings are “offensive” to her has launched a legal challenge over her refusal to carry them out.

Dianne Hensley, who is a Justice of the Peace in McLennan County, faced a misconduct warning this month for insisting that she will only marry straight couples.

Hensley is the only judge at the Waco, Texas courthouse who conducts weddings, and happily conducted unions for opposite-sex couples – but rejected gay couples, meaning they were unable to have a courthouse wedding in the area at all.

The judge, who was elected to office on a Republican ticket, insisted: “I have no desire to offend anybody but the last person I want to offend is God.”

Texas judge seeks right to discriminate against engaged gay couples

On Tuesday, Hensley filed a lawsuit against the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct seeking $100,000 in damages over its misconduct finding, claiming that her rights have been infringed upon.

Hensley, who is represented by anti-LGBT lobbying group First Liberty Institute, is also seeking the right for all justices of the peace to discriminate against gay couples.

Texas Judge Dianne Hensley
Texas Judge Dianne Hensley (First Liberty Institute)

The suit claims: “The Commission violated the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act by investigating and punishing Judge Hensley for recusing herself from officiating at same-sex weddings, in accordance with the commands of her Christian faith.

“By investigating and punishing her for acting in accordance with the commands of her Christian faith, the State of Texas has substantially burdened the free exercise of her religion, with no compelling justification.”

Hensley said in a press release: “For providing a solution to meet a need in my community while remaining faithful to my religious beliefs, I received a ‘public warning.’ No one should be punished for that.”

Judge was warned for casting doubt on her impartiality

The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct had said: “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: “The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct has determined that the Honorable Judge Dianne 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.”

More: judge, Texas

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