6.27.23 Waco Tribune-Herald
“Waco JP’s Suit on Refusal of Same-Sex Marriages To Get Texas Supreme Court Look”
By Christopher de los Santos

A judge 's gavel and the words " freedom of religion ".


The Texas Supreme Court will review a case involving a Waco justice of the peace’s refusal to perform same-sex weddings.

McLennan County Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley sued the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct after it issued a public warning against her in 2019 for refusing to perform weddings for same-sex couples, citing her religious views, while continuing to perform weddings for opposite-sex couples. Hensley requested April 10 that the Texas Supreme Court consider the matter after a district court in Travis County dismissed her lawsuit and an appeals court upheld the dismissal.

The Texas Supreme Court agreed Friday to grant the request for judicial review from Hensley. She has been the Precinct 1, Place 1 JP since 2014, and was unopposed last year in her most recent reelection bid.

In addition to Hensley’s attorney in Travis County, Jonathan Mitchell, three attorneys from the Plano-based First Liberty Institute joined the lawsuit, including deputy general counsel Justin Butterfield.

Judge Hensley always followed the law,” Butterfield said in a statement Monday. “She sought to follow her religious beliefs and accommodate everyone, yet the government chose to punish her. We look forward to the Texas Supreme Court correcting this injustice.”

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct hears complaints against judges. It can take wide-ranging actions based on the severity of the complaints, including suspending a judge from office, requiring additional legal education or issuing private or public sanctions.

The commission is represented by a number of lawyers including Douglas Lang of Thompson Coburn LLP in Dallas…

After a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision established the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Hensley initially stopped performing marriages altogether. She then resumed offering to perform weddings, generally at the courthouse and during business hours, but would turn away same-sex couples based on her views as a “Bible-believing” Christian, she told the Tribune-Herald in 2017. She said her office sometimes referred same-sex couples to others in the area who would marry them.

Beginning on about Aug. 1, 2016, Judge Hensley and her court staff began giving all same-sex couples wishing to be married by Judge Hensley a document which stated, ‘I’m sorry, but Judge Hensley has a sincerely held religious belief as a Christian, and will not be able to perform any same-sex weddings,’” according to the warning the judicial conduct commission issued in 2019.

she sued the commission in a Waco district court shortly after its reprimand of her was made public. The suit was moved to Travis County, where the commission performs its duties.


Hensley’s lawsuit seeks damages of $10,000 and under the Texas Restoration of Freedom of Religion Act, she seeks the reversal of the commission’s warning based on her claim of a religious exemption.



12.23.22 – “Texas Appeals Court Tosses Suit from Waco JP Who Refused To Marry Gay Couples” -- by Lauren McGauphy -- https://donnagarner.org/12-23-22-texas-appeals-court-tosses-suit-from-waco-jp-who-refused-to-marry-gay-couples/