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Texas Judge Rebuked for Refusing to Officiate Same-Sex Weddings

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Texas Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley is finally facing repercussions for refusing to marry same-sex couples four years after the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality.

The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a rare public comdemnation of Hensley on Monday, the Houston Chronicle reports. Hensley has served as judge and justice of the peace in McClennan County in central Texas since 2014.

After the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationally in June 2015, Hensley continued to marry opposite-sex couples but refused to accomodate same-sex couples, instead handing them a document that read, "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." Since the paper included a list of other officials who would officiate same-sex weddings, Hensley believed she was not violating anyone's rights.

The Texas Commission of Judicial Conduct didn't weigh in on whether Hensley's actions were unconstitutional, but in their public rebuke of her, the officials said her actions cast doubt on her impartiality on matters involving LGB people.

"Based upon the record before it and the factual findings recited above, the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct has determined that the Honorable Judge Dianne Hensley, Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, Place 1 in Waco, McLennan County, Texas, 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 in violation of Canon 4A(l) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct," read the conclusion of the commission's statement.

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.

The judge has not spoken publicly about the commission's public warning, but two years ago she gave an interview where she said her "religious exemptions" should preclude her from performing same-sex weddings. 

“I’m entitled to accommodations just as much as anyone else,” Hensley told the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Hensley has 30 days to appeal the commission's sanction.

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