Louisiana justice who refused interracial marriage resigns
A justice of the peace in Louisiana who denied an interracial couple a marriage license has resigned, according to published reports.
Keith Bardwell, who defended his decision as being about concern for the couple’s children, did not respond to requests for comment regarding his resignation. However, he told a CNN affiliate that he is unapologetic for the decision.
“It’s kind of hard to apologize for something that you really and truly feel down in your heart you haven’t done wrong,” he reportedly said.
The Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union called the justice’s move “tragic and illegal.” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had called for the justice’s license to be revoked.
Bardwell has long had a policy of not marrying interracial couples, and admitted that Louisiana’s attorney general had warned him years ago that he could “get into trouble” because of it.
“I told him if I do, I’ll resign,” Bardwell told the Daily Star. “I have rights too. I’m not obligated to do that just because I’m a justice of the peace.”
Bardwell said that neither black nor white society accepts the offspring of an interracial couple, and the children suffer as a result. He also stated that interracial families are unstable, and the children of these families often end up in the care of grandparents.
“In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer,” he said, adding that “if he does an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all,” The Hammond Daily Star reported.
“I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.
Beth Humphrey, who is white, and Terence McKay, who is black, were eventually married by a justice of the peace in a neighboring town.
Humphrey told the Star that Bardwell’s wife asked her if this was an interracial marriage when she called to make arrangements and told her to contact another justice of the peace as her husband would not sign the marriage license.
CNN added that Census Bureau figures showing that Bardwell’s parish in Louisiana “is about 70 percent white and 30 percent black.”