This story would have left a really bad taste in the mouth even 20 or 30 years ago. But to have this happening today is just unbelievable:
A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.
Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”
Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.
Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.
“There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage,” Bardwell said. “I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”
If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.
“I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.
Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past 2½ years.
The couple in question, and the ACLU, aren’t taking this lying down:
Beth Humphrey, 30, and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.
“It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann. “The Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1963 (1967, actually) that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.”
The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, which oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell and recommending “the most severe sanctions available, because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice.”
“He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it,” Schwartzmann said.
But Bardwell has a clean conscience. He knows in his heart he’s done 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.”
Blithely unrepentant just about sums it up. But, hey, if pro-”life” pharmacists have the right to refuse to dispense birth control medications, why shouldn’t a JP be allowed to protect racial purity?