Monday, October 19, 2009

Justice of the peace refuses to marry interracial couple

A Louisiana justice of peace refused to issue a marriage license because the couple trying to wed was interracial. Keith Bardwell, a justice of peace in Tangipahoa Parish, cited concern for children that the couple might have as one of his reasons. Bardwell, who claims most interracial marriages do not last long, came to the conclusion that offspring from those relationships are discriminated against.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell told the Associated Press. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it." He supports his decision by saying he treats all interracial couples the same way. "I try to treat everyone equally," Bardwell said.

The justice of peace estimates that he has denied marriage to four couples during his two and a half year career. The latest couple to be denied, Beth Humphrey, 30, and Terence McKay, 32, will look into filing a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Justice Department. "That was one thing that made this so unbelievable," Humphrey said. "It's not something you expect in this day and age." Humphrey, who is white and an account manager for a marketing firm, and McKay, a welder who is black, recently returned to Louisiana.

Humphrey called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to ask about getting a marriage license and learned through Bardwell’s wife that he would not sign for interracial couples. "We are looking forward to having children," Humphrey said. "And all our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for this, we're typical happy newlyweds." The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has already sent a letter to the state’s judiciary committee asking it to investigate Bardwell. "It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009," ACLU attorney Katie Schwartzmann said. "The Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1963 that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry."

But Bardwell insists that he did nothing wrong. "I've been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don't think I've mistreated anybody," Bardwell said. "I've made some mistakes, but you have too. I didn't tell this couple they couldn't get married. I just told them I wouldn't do it."

This is from another article, and I think it really clarifies everything:

"I'm not a racist," Bardwell told the newspaper. "I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children."

You guize! He's not a racist, so it's okay. He's even had black people in his house!!! I wonder if he would marry a mixed person to a non-mixed person? Or would that person have had too difficult a childhood to have a successful marriage?



  1. the part of this story that i wish i knew more about is--how hard is it to just go to another judge?

  2. From the article:
    Bardwell, stressing that he couldn't personally endorse the marriage, said his wife referred the couple to another justice of the peace.

    The couple did go to another JOP and were married without any problems. So to answer your question - not hard.

    Aren't people in his position paid by the state? I'm glad someone made a big deal of it because this guy should lose his paycheck for not fulfilling his duties.


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