Texas Justice Takes Case to State Supreme Court Over Refusal to Conduct Same-Sex Weddings

Texas Justice of the Peace, Dianne Hensley, will present her case to the state's Supreme Court .

A Texas Justice of the Peace, Dianne Hensley, will present her case to the state’s Supreme Court this week, challenging the sanctions imposed on her for refusing to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies due to her religious beliefs.

Justice Hensley was reprimanded by the Texas Commission on Judicial Misconduct in 2019 for only officiating traditional, opposite-sex marriages. In response, she filed a lawsuit against the commission, asserting she was penalized on the grounds of her faith.

“The closer I follow the Scriptures, the better my life goes,” Hensley remarked.

According to the commission, since August 2016, Hensley had consistently declined to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in repudiation of the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.

After a state district judge dismissed her lawsuit in June 2021, an appellate court confirmed that decision, subsequently elevating it to the Texas Supreme Court.

The commission has raised concerns over Hensley’s impartiality, suggesting that her views could influence her judicial decisions, especially concerning individuals based on their sexual orientation.

Legal representatives for Hensley from First Liberty stated that she initially halted all wedding ceremonies after the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriages.

They organization said, “She came up with an innovative solution that followed the law and allowed her to reconcile her religious convictions while serving the needs of her community. And no one complained.”

Hensley has committed to providing same-sex couples with a list of alternative officiants upon request. Notably, she is also legally represented by Jonathan Mitchell, the ex-Texas Solicitor General, known for authoring the ‘heartbeat’ bill leading to Roe v. Wade’s overturning.

In a recent brief, Hensley’s attorneys cited a Supreme Court ruling favoring a Colorado Christian graphic designer who declined a project celebrating same-sex marriage, claiming it supports Hensley’s stance.

Hensley has also been criticized for repeating well-documented statements that gay individuals have a higher prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases.

When Chat.opnai.com was asked whether this statement was true, it responded:

Yes, certain studies and public health reports have indicated that some segments of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly men who have sex with men (MSM), have higher rates of certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) compared to other populations. It’s important to approach this topic with nuance and sensitivity, ensuring that any discussion does not perpetuate stereotypes or stigmatization. Here are some points to consider:

1. Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM): This group has been reported to have higher rates of certain STDs, especially syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV. The CDC has reported that MSM account for a significant proportion of new syphilis and HIV diagnoses in the U.S.

2. HIV/AIDS: MSM represents the majority of new HIV diagnoses in many parts of the world, including the U.S. While antiretroviral therapy and preventive measures like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) have made significant progress in reducing transmission, HIV remains a concern for this community.

3. Behavioral and Societal Factors: Disparities in STD rates can be influenced by a range of factors, including the number of sexual partners, type of sexual activity (e.g., anal sex without a condom has a higher risk of HIV transmission), and barriers to healthcare access, education, and prevention resources.

4. Transgender Health: Research on transgender individuals and STDs is more limited, but some studies indicate that transgender women might have higher rates of HIV compared to cisgender populations.

Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office announced they won’t defend the state agency in this dispute.

This case emerges against the backdrop of Texas enacting a series of traditional values laws. As of June, Texas is the 17th state to prohibit gender-affirming care for teenagers.

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