Texas Judge Sues State after Being Reprimanded for Refusing to Marry Same-Sex Couples
A Texas judge is suing the state after she was warned earlier this year that she could not refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
According to CBN News, Waco judge Dianne Hensley received a public warning by Texas’ State Commission on Judicial Conduct after she refused to officiate same-sex marriages.
Hensley is a “Bible-believing” Christian who told reporters that her conscience kept her from performing same-sex weddings. She said she felt she had a “religious exemption” from performing the ceremonies.
Same-sex couples who went to Hensley’s office to be married were referred to others who would perform the wedding, but a complaint was filed against Hensley.
“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,” she wrote in a statement.
Hensley is being represented by First Liberty Institute, a group that specializes in religious liberty cases. First Liberty Institute says the State Commission violated state law when it admonished her for her beliefs on same-sex marriage.
The State Commission did not fine Hensley, but she said the warning “substantially burdened the free exercise of her religion, with no compelling justification.”
The State Commission told the Texas Tribune it had no comment, but the commission had been served with the lawsuit.
Ricardo Martinez, Equality Texas CEO, said in its own statement, however, that Hensley took an oath to “serve all Texans.”
"These elected officials continue to waste taxpayer money in an obsession to discriminate against gay and transgender Texans. This is not what Texans want or expect from elected officials," Martinez said. "Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Their actions are mean spirited, futile, a waste of taxpayer money and most importantly, it’s wrong."
The Texas Tribune reports that Hensley is seeking “a declaratory judgment from the court decreeing that any justice of the peace may refuse to officiate a same-sex wedding “if the commands of their religious faith forbid them to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies.”
She is seeking damages of $10,000.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.