January 2020 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

A Texas justice of the peace who refuses to officiate at the weddings of same-sex couples has received an official warning from the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Dianne Hensley, a justice of the peace in McLennan County, has been giving a document to same-sex couples asking about marriage that reads, “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 Houston Chronicle reported that in 2017, Hensley told a Waco newspaper that she believes she’s entitled to a “religious exemption.”

Justices of the peace in Texas are not required to perform marriages, but many choose to do so to supplement their incomes. Hensley is still performing marriages for opposite-sex couples.

The Commission issued its warning to Hensley Dec. 2. It read in part, “Based upon the record before it and the factual findings recited above, 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 in violation of Canon 4A(l) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.”

Backed by the Religious Right legal group First Liberty Institute, Hensley is suing over the warning.