McLennan County justice of peace sanctioned for refusing same-sex weddings 

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The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct has issued a public warning to McLennan County Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley for her practice of not performing same-sex weddings, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.

The commission issued an order Monday to give Hensley a warning for “casting doubt on her capacity to act impartially to persons appearing before her as a judge due to the person’s sexual orientation.” The commission said Hensley has refused to conduct same-sex weddings since Aug. 1, 2016 and that her stance violates the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.

Hensley, who has been in her position since 2014, told the Tribune-Herald in 2017 that she “would only do a wedding between a man and a woman,” although the U.S. Supreme Court decided two years earlier that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married. 

She told the newspaper that as a “Bible-believing” Christian, she could not perform same-sex weddings and argued she should get a religious exemption. Her office has referred same-sex couples to ministers and other justices of the peace to arrange marriage services. 

Waco attorney Mike Dixon, who represents the county, told the newspaper that as an elected official, Hensley should be able to operate her office as she wishes while also pointing out that justices of the peace aren’t statutorily required to perform weddings.

“My advice when asked was that they should either do it for everyone or not do it at all,” he said. 

Hensley declined to tell the Tribune-Herald on Monday if she will appeal the sanction.

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