McLennan County Judge Warned After Refusing Same-Sex Marriages
A local Justice of the Peace was recently reprimanded after she reportedly refused to perform same-sex marriages.
Paul J. Gately with our partners at News 10 reports that McLennan County JP Dianne Hensley received a letter from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct stating that she "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".
The code cited requires judges to perform extra-judicial activities so as not to cast doubt on their capacity to act impartially.
Gately reports that since August of 2016, Hensley's staff has handed a document to same-sex couples wanting to marry that states she cannot perform their weddings due to her Christian beliefs. She once testified that she would recuse herself from any case in which doubt was cast on her impartiality due to her refusal to perform same-sex marriages.
Hensley's reprimand brings to mind former Rowan County, Kentucky District Clerk Kim Davis, who in 2015 sparked national debate when she refused to comply with a federal court order to issue same-sex marriage licenses, citing her religious convictions. Back in August of 2019, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that Davis could be sued for damages by two couples as an individual, but not for her role as a state employee.
What do you think? Should a judge be entirely impartial when performing marriages, or does JP Hensley have the right to refuse based on religious convictions?