The judge said that as long as the other justice of the peace is available to perform same-sex weddings, she believes she is not violating queer couples’ constitutional rights and that she deserves a “religious exemption” because of her faith.
A Texas judge is standing her ground after being reprimanded by a state commission for refusing to conduct same-sex weddings.
Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley, an elected official serving McLennan County in central Texas, insists she’s done nothing wrong by officiating at weddings for straight couples while turning away same-sex couples because of her conservative Christian beliefs.
The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct published a public warning against the judge on Monday, saying Hensley’s conduct casts doubt on her “capacity to act impartially to persons appearing before her as a judge due to the person’s sexual orientation.”
A public sanction is the second-highest form of discipline used by the commission. Sanctions are issued when the commission finds sufficient evidence of judicial misconduct.
Hensley, a Republican elected in 2014, claims she’s done her due diligence because she makes sure queer couples who come to her know of other local officiants who can perform their weddings.
“I sought a solution so that anyone in McLennan County who wants to get married can get married,” Hensley told The Houston Chronicle. “I have, do, and always will, follow the law.”
Hensley did not return HuffPost’s request for comment.
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 decision recognizing the right of same-sex couples to marry, some Texas judges stopped officiating at marriages altogether in protest.
Hensley initially did the same. However, in August 2016, Hensley starting performing weddings again, but only for straight couples, the commission said.
“My conscience was bothering me because so many people were calling and wanting a wedding,” she said in a June 2017 interview with The Waco Tribune-Herald.
Between September 2016 and the date of the Tribune-Herald article, Hensley said she had conducted about 70 weddings for straight couples at the county courthouse during business hours. But she said that as a “Bible-believing” Christian, her conscience prevents her from performing same-sex weddings.