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Meet The Retiring Denton County Judge Who Won't Do Gay Marriages, Fought Bathroom Bill

Rick Holter
Denton County Judge Mary Horn, shown in her office at the county courthouse, will not run for re-election to the county's top elected office next year.

Mary Horn is a ground breaker. She was Denton County's first female tax assessor and the first woman to serve as county judge. And she's lasted longer in the county's top job than anyone else.

This week, the Republican said she's retiring. And whether it's refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, fighting to keep a Confederate memorial or opposing the so-called "bathroom bill," she makes no apologies.

Interview Highlights

On whether she wishes she'd handled the same-sex marriage issue differently: "No, I have no regrets whatsoever. I think what a lot of people don't understand is while the county judge is authorized to perform marriage, there's no law that requires us to. I've had people say, 'Do your job! Do your job!' I am doing my job, thank you very much. If somebody else in another county wants to do it, that's their business. I make decisions only for me, and that's the position I took."

On the Confederate memorial on the Square: "There is a viewpoint that has not been vocal, or loud, or obnoxious, or rude. I have heard from people ... that feel very strongly that the monument needs to stay, right where it is...If you will read the front of that monument, it says it's for the soldiers. It doesn't say it's for racism; it says it's for the soldiers. There's more to the story of the Confederate war than slavery. That is one component, and an important component, but it's not the only component...I would like to see a new plaque up there with accurate historical context, and use it as a teaching tool."

On Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and the failed "bathroom  bill": "I thought he did an excellent job legislatively last year. I thought, for example, the bathroom bill was a big mistake, and we have much bigger fish to fry."

Denton County Judge Mary Horn announced this week that she won't run for re-election next year, her 16th as Denton County's top elected official.

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.