Even after marriage equality became the law throughout the country, Texas Justice of The Peace Dianne Hensley refused to marry gay couples. Even though she’s a government official who’s been in that role since 2014 — and not a pastor — she would hand same-sex couples a note that said she “has a sincerely held religious belief as a Christian, and will not be able to perform any same sex weddings.” That note would include the names of judges who would marry the couple, which is why she felt she could get away with her bigotry.
Now the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct has issued a public warning to Hensley, basically saying that pointing to people who aren’t bigots isn’t a legitimate excuse for her own discrimination.
The wording in the letter doesn’t seem like much, simply saying 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.” But that sets up a situation where she could be kicked off the bench in the future.
If there’s any consolation here, it’s that Hensley has already promised not to hear cases involving gay or bi people.
… Hensley previously told the commission she would recuse herself from any cases involving LGB people since it’s clear to many she is biased against them.
That’s a start. But much like a pharmacist who refuses to dispense birth control for personal reasons, ignoring a doctor’s prescription, you have to wonder why she’s in this job at all. Surely there are judges who understand that their personal beliefs shouldn’t interfere with their public duties when they accept a public job.
Hensley’s role requires her to obey the law, not create reasons to avoid it whenever she feels like it. If she’s unable to do that, she should find a new job at a nearby church.
(Screenshot via YouTube)