Texas judge sues for being reprimanded over same-sex marriages

Texas judge sues for being reprimanded over same-sex marriages December 18, 2019
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‘BIBLE-believing’ judge Dianne Hensley wants $10,000 in compensation for an alleged violation of her religious rights.

That violation, according to the wacko from Waco, took the form of a public warning she received last year from the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct for refusing to perform same-sex marriages.

A Justice of the Peace in McLennan County, Hensley is a devout Christian who said her conscience prohibited her from doing same-sex weddings. She felt she was entitled to a “religious exemption” from performing them.

The complaint lodged against Hensley said that while Hensley would perform traditional marriages she refused to conduct same-sex marriages.

Hensley made the decision to not perform weddings that went against her beliefs after the US Supreme Court ruled on same-sex couples marrying as a constitutional right in the Obergefell decision.

Instead, she vowed to “politely refer” gay couples to others who would perform the service.

Hensley responded by appealing to her right to follow her beliefs as she sees fit.

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.

According to the Texas Tribune, Hensley believes the state violated the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and 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.

The First Liberty Institute, first port of call for “persecuted Christians” – a law firm closely aligned with the Texas Attorney General’s Office –  will represent the Hensley in the lawsuit filed yesterday (Tuesday) in McLennan County District Court.

The public warning issued by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct on November 12, 2018, did not carry a fine. But Hensley claims the investigation and warning:

Substantially burdened the free exercise of her religion, with no compelling justification.

That’s why she is seeking damages of $10,000.

Her attorney on the case, Jonathan Mitchell, is a former Solicitor General of Texas.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has made religious liberty a priority of his office, has worked alongside the First Liberty Institute in the past, including on a lawsuit against the city of San Antonio after it banned Chick-fil-A from opening a location in its airport.

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said the State Commission on Judicial Conduct is an independent agency authorised to represent itself in legal proceedings, “which it typically does.” It has not yet asked the AG’s office for representation, but can, he added.

The interim Executive Director of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct said the agency had not yet been served with the lawsuit and had no comment.

Hensley’s case has already generated significant public attention. Two former members of the state’s disciplinary board for judges claim Governor Greg Abbott ousted them for initially voting to sanction a Hensley.

Abbott appointed Amy Suhl, a retired technology executive, and Maricela Alvarado, a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army, to the commission in June 2018 for terms set to expire in 2023. But in a highly unusual move, the Governor’s office ultimately excluded them from a list of appointees up for confirmation from the Texas Senate, effectively axing them from the agency.

The appointees said the governor’s office claimed he had “decided to go in a different direction”, but they believe they were ousted because they had favoured penalising Hensley.

Suhl  said:

What the Governor’s doing is wrong. They’re not supposed to be trying to coerce people to vote a certain way. It’s just not right.

A spokesman for the governor said all nominations are based on merit.

Ricardo Martinez, above, CEO of Equality Texas, said in a statement that as a justice of the peace, 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. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. Their actions are mean spirited, futile, a waste of taxpayer money and most importantly, it’s wrong.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    She felt she was entitled to a “religious exemption” from performing them.

    In other words, she’s complaining because she doesn’t get special privileges.

  • OhSoGood

    If she can’t perform weddings for all citizens, then she should perform no weddings.

    She’s a public servant paid for by everyone’s taxes… unless gay folks get a tax break, she serves them or she serves no one.

  • Mike Panic

    No wonder these goddamnedfuckedupkkkristers are so hated

  • Mike Panic

    It is just another hatemongeringfool for that evilkkkristthing.

  • Vanity Unfair

    The obvious answer is that she would be “suddenly unavailable” on that day (I’m assuming that weddings in TX have to be planned in advance) and another judge would take over (I’m assuming that the court has more than one judge) on a sharing basis. Her replacement would have no excuse when she retires (soon).
    Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act sound like a prime example of doublethink.
    What is really worrying is the thought that her religious beliefs might be guiding her in conducting criminal trials and deciding sentences.
    It’s interesting that US judges can perform marriage ceremonies. Is this a left-over from the age of imperial expansion when government officials often had multiple jobs?

  • johnsoncatman

    She is a public servant, so if she cannot serve everyone, she needs to get another job. Do not let her off the hook by allowing her to not do an essential part of her job. If she serves no one, she is not doing her job.

  • OhSoGood

    In most states, whether or not a judge performs marriage at all is up to the judge, so that’s why I focused my comment as I did. I admit I am unsure of Texas.

  • Mike Panic

    Kkkrister conscience is an oymoron.

  • Michael Neville

    Just another bigot using her religion to excuse her bigotry. Plus she was $10K because her bigotry was condemned.

  • She has no case.

  • Delta

    That’s what Kim Davis did — she refused to perform any marriages.

  • Lauren Greene

    Yet another garden-variety kkkrister whingeing they are being oppressed while oppressing others…

  • Broga

    She knows she is right. Too bad if anyone has a different opinion.

  • OhSoGood

    Um… she wasn’t a judge. She didn’t perform marriages, she issued licenses.

    Good grief.

  • Delta

    You are correct; she was not a Justice of the Peace. She was still an elected official, however.

    Justices of the Peace do perform marriages as part of their duties. I don’t think it’s something you can opt out of.

    Maybe it’s different in Texas, though.

  • OhSoGood

    She was a county clerk, not a JP… she didn’t perform marriages, she issued marriage licenses. Nothing more. Man, can’t you read? Know how a search engine works?

    So, she serves all citizens.

    She got what she deserved…

  • Larry Dawson

    As she would be performing civil cere,omies, she has no basis for her complaint.

  • Arthur F. Meincke

    She should resign. Her oath of office is to the Constitution of the State of Texas and the Constitution of the United States of America. The bible is NOT the rule/law of the USA!