Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana has become an infamous figure overnight after he refused to marry an interracial couple out of concern for their possible children. However, he helpfully explained “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way.”
Could have fooled me.
I take it that he is not a big fan of Othello.
Bardwell seems to be laboring under the misconception that he can administer his office along racial lines and that insisting on people marrying within their race is not racist.
He insists that “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.”
“Piles” of minority friends who are even allowed to use his bathroom.
He insists that he is just thinking of the kinder: “There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage,. I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”
In the past 2 1/2 years, Bardwell says that he has refused to marry at least four couples. This includes the most recent “unacceptable” couple Beth Humphrey, 30, and Terence McKay, 32.
They are in the same position as Mildred Loving (Mildred Delores Jeter) and Richard Perry Loving. The interracial couple that led to Supreme Court to strike down the Racial Integrity Act, a state law banning marriages between any white person and any non-white person. While the Lovings were prosecuted under the law, the unanimous ruling in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967) established that it was unconstitutional to deny such licenses to interracial couples.
Obviously, Bardwell has to be stripped of his position. There is also the question as to the status of his bar license since some bars deny licenses to lawyers with known racist views. Finally, there is the potential for civil liability since he is violating the constitutional rights of these couples.
The couple has come forward to express their anger and disgust over the incident, here.