Texas Judges Use Religion As An Excuse to Deny Wedding Ceremonies

Dianne Hensley is one of the judges who is taking legal action to avoid officiating same-sex weddings. Image by John Carroll via KWTX.com

Two judges from Texas are saying that their religious beliefs give them the right to refuse to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples, and they’reso adamant about this that they’re taking this to court, according to Dallas News.

The county judge of Jack County, Brian Keith Umphress, filed a federal lawsuit against the State Commission on Judicial Conduct because he believes that the US Constitution doesn’t require him to officiate same-sex weddings even though he will officiate heterosexual ones. Hello? Obergefell v. Hodges anyone? I’m pretty sure that ruling made it so that all states have to recognize same-sex marriages as valid. Also, didn’t we go through this with Kim Davis in 2015?

Umphress also says that the First Amendment protects this decision due to his religious beliefs. His lawsuit also says that the judicial rule regarding same-sex marriage is unconstitutionally vague. He argues that the judicial rule was misinterpreted by Texas’ state agency, and as such, subject him and other judges to punishment if they express critical views of same-sex marriage or homosexual conduct. Personally I’ve never understood this argument because what is there to be critical about? Same-sex marriage has been legal across the country since June of 2015 and even before that, states were legalizing it and so far the existence of gay married couples haven’t caused societal collapse. If someone doesn’t like same-sex marriages, I suggest that they don’t get married to someone of their own sex and leave others alone. 

Dianne Hensley is the other judge who also sued the agency weeks after being issued a warning because she refused to officiate same-sex weddings. She believes that she was unlawfully punished for her religious beliefs. Hensley had previously testified before the commission that she would recuse herself from a case where people doubted her impartiality because she refused to officiate a same-sex wedding. However, the commission found that she violated Canon 4A(l) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, which states that judges must conduct all extra-judicial activities in a way that doesn’t cast doubt on their impartiality. By refusing to officiate same-sex weddings due to her religious beliefs, she did just that. 

You know my feelings on this (and about using religion as an excuse to discriminate in general) but what do you think? Will these judges win their lawsuits or will they not hold water? Discuss in the comments. 

1 thought on “Texas Judges Use Religion As An Excuse to Deny Wedding Ceremonies”

  1. This is insane. But then again, Texas cranked out God-awful Christian extremists like Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott and every single Texas Supreme Court judge, who ruled that Obergefell v. Hodges didn’t address whether same-sex spouses of city employees are entitled to benefits as hetero spouses are. Two of these bigots are now federal judges, thanks to Trump farming out the selection of judges to ultra-orthodox Catholic Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society.

    Government employees cannot decline to recognize anyone’s constitutional right while working. How absurd. All of this is a concerted maneuver by #TheReligiousWhite to tear apart marriage equality, ergo gays’ equality, just as they’ve done time and again, for nearly 50 years, to null Roe v. Wade.


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