Justice of the peace punished for accommodating all

Friday, December 20, 2019
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

signing a marriage licenseA judge in Texas has been reprimanded by a state commission for her conduct in regard to officiating same-sex "marriage" ceremonies, but her attorneys say she did nothing wrong.

Judge Dianne Hensley is a justice of the peace in Waco, Texas, located in McLennan County. She does not feel as though she can officiate same-sex "weddings," citing her religious beliefs. But instead of refusing to officiate weddings, Hensley created a referral system allowing anyone in the county who wants to get married to have the ceremony – even on the same day.

"She partnered with a walk-in wedding chapel that's just three blocks away from her office," says attorney Jeremy Dys of First Liberty Institute, the law firm defending Judge Hensley. "That person even agreed to accept a lower rate to match Judge Hensley's rate so that that wouldn't be a problem."

According to Dys, Judge Hensley even offered to pay the difference, if there was a difference in cost.

Dys

"She is just simply trying to accommodate as many marriages as possible, when at the same time most justices of the peace and otherwise are just simply not officiating weddings whatsoever," Dys continues. "For doing that – for making sure as many as possible could get married – she's been punished by the Commission on Judicial Conduct here in the state of Texas."

Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez told The Texas Tribune "this is not what Texas wants or expects from elected officials" – adding that "discrimination of any kind is unacceptable."

But Dys says everyone who wants to get married in the county through Judge Hensley's program was and is able to get married.

"No one complained to the Commission on Judicial Conduct about this – no one," he tells OneNewsNow. "Judge Hensley went out of her way and at her own expense and effort created this referral system that worked swimmingly within her county there … and instead they have placed a burden upon the judge's free exercise of religion."

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