Louisiana Justice of the Peace Refuses to Marry Interracial Couple

Saturday, October 17, 2009
President Obama's parents

Despite the presence of a mixed-race president in the White House, Keith Bardwell believes interracial marriages are a bad idea because of how children from such unions can be mistreated by society. So the justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish’s 8th Ward in Louisiana refuses to marry individuals from different ethnic backgrounds. “I’m not a racist,” Bardwell told the Hammond Daily Star. “I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children.”

Bardwell’s explanation did not sit well with Beth Humphrey and her boyfriend, Terence McKay, who were refused when they approached the justice of the peace for a marriage license. They’re now talking to the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint. “I simply can’t believe he can do that. That’s blatant discrimination,” Humphrey said.

The Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union and the Tangipahoa Parish Chapter of the NAACP think so too.

-Noel Brinkerhoff
JP Refuses to Marry Couple (by Don Ellzey, Hammond Daily Star)


Mike Licht 8 years ago
Holly: This was not an adversarial procedure, so "recusal" does not apply. And judges can't "recuse" themselves from upholding the Constitution, since it is their sworn duty to do so. Tangipahoa Parish has another claim to fame: It was the filming location for In the Heat of the Night, the TV show about race and the law. See: http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/not-in-tangipahoa-parish/
Christine 8 years ago
This justice of the peace has the right to recuse himself from a situation he does not wish to be part of. He did not say they could not marry, he just didnt want to be part of something he does not believe in. Church clergy refuse to marry couples all the time because of divorce or other religous reasons, no one starts yelling discrimination at that! The only mistake this justice of the peace made was stating his belief/opinion. In doing so he has now opened himself up to being labled and all this controversy. Freedom of speach is at the top of the list of freedoms that this country is famous for; it is why people from other countries come here every day, and yet this man is being persecuted for saying outloud what his thoughts/opinion/beliefs are. He did not single out this particular couple, from what I can gather from other things I have read, he has been working in this manner for years. While interracial couples are more acceptable now that they were as little as ten years ago, there are still some people that dont think it is right, that is their opinion and each person is entitled to their opinions.
Joseph Smith 8 years ago
WTF? I am not even shocked by that racist nut justice but these two guys here (Holly and one other wacko using same name) are defending him. Racism still exists. I can only take (lil) comfort that majority of us are not racists.
Keith B 8 years ago
The Governor of Louisiana is wrong at having Justice of the Peace Barwell resign his position immediately. Jusge Bardwell did not say they could not get marry, he said that he would not marry them, there is a difference. It is his right to decide on who he wants to marry or not.
s.b 8 years ago
This is clearly unacceptable; judges have to execute the law. If the law in itself is not right, it should be democratically changed. We can't have indivdual judges ruling states contrary to the law.
Holly 8 years ago
Maybe I'm completely wrong, but I was under the belief that court officials could recuse themselve from legal action that they did not feel comfortable participating in. He didn't STOP them from getting married. I suspect that they KNEW that he would not marry them BEFORE they entered his office. Very clever of them.

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