Another Texas judge is making headlines by suing the state agency that publicly chastised her for violating same-sex marriage laws.
Hensley thought she came up with the perfect solution to protect what she felt were her religious rights.
The state of Texas disagreed, something that they made known publicly.
Read on for the full story.
Texas Judge Sues State Agency for Violating Her Religious Rights
Judge Diane Hensley is currently pursuing legal action after she came up with what she thought was a great solution for the gay people of Waco, Texas to get married.
Hensley, who refuses to officiate same-sex marriages on the grounds of religious freedom, started a referral service instead.
She took a break from marrying all couples after the 2015 landmark Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriages.
According to NBC News, Hensley joined the office only five months before the ruling. She didn’t perform any marriages until 2016.
In 2016, she resumed officiating weddings. However, of 328 she oversaw, not a single one one was for a same-sex couple.
Back in December, 2019, the Texas Commission on Judicial Misconduct publicly warned her that her refusal to perform same-sex marriages violated the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.
Hensley attempted to work around the law while maintaining what she felt were her religious rights by instead referring couples to another option.
Now, she’s suing the Commission for issuing a warning, on the grounds that it violates her religious rights.
Hensley refers couples to other judges & services
In the lawsuit, Hensley’s main defense is that she “invested extensive time and resources to compile a referral list of alternative, local and low-cost wedding officiants in Waco” for same-sex couples that come to her.
According to the lawsuit, this included making arrangements with a walk-in wedding chapel three blocks from Hensely’s courtroom where couples would receive a discount.
One of the attorneys who represent Diane Hensley in the trial, Jeremy Dys, stated that
Most of them had a conviction that led them against doing that, and so they just decided to end the practice altogether. That didn’t sit real well with Dianne Hensley, and so [she] came up with a really innovative solution in which she created, at some cost to herself, a referral list for people who would be willing to provide those services in light of the fact that she couldn’t do that.
This news led to the conclusion that Hensley is somehow stuck between two worlds. She won’t perform same-sex weddings, but she will offer them solutions in order to get married.
Her attorney added:
We ought to be rewarding people who come up with such innovative solutions like Dianne Hensley came up with. The fact that we have instead decided to publicly reprimand her and, if she doesn’t stop this process, threaten her with increasing sanctions, including the potential to remove her from office – I think that’s not only unkind, it’s wrong.
Regardless of her intentions, the fact remains that she violated the 2015 ruling by refusing to perform same-sex marriages, plain and simple.
The Texas Commission on Judicial Misconduct was acting within their scope when they publicly warned Hensley.
Hensley took an oath when she took office, and that includes obeying both existing and new laws.
So far, we don’t know when Hansley’s trial will be held, but we are curious to see the results.
Hensley is Awaiting Trial
In the lawsuit, she argued that she “invested extensive time and resources to compile a referral list of alternative, local and low-cost wedding officiants in Waco,” for all the gay couples she refused to marry.
This news comes after Judge Hensley backed up Jack County’s judge, Brian Keith Umphress.
Umphress made headlines for refusing to perform gay marriages as well. He claims that ‘marriage only exists between one man and one woman.’
Texas is a battleground between the LGBT communities and the officials refusing to abide by the U.S. laws.
The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that it will not defend the Commission.
We are waiting to see what happens next and what will be the outcome of all these events. We’ll keep you updated.