Just Another Guy with Opinions

Mixed-Race Couple Denied Marriage License

Posted by shadmia on October 16, 2009

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Beth Humphrey, 30, and Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond, La. were in love and decided to get married. They went to Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell for the marriage license. He refused because Beth was white and Terence was black and he doesn’t do mixed-race marriages.

He suggested that they get someone else to sign the marriage certificate….which they did. They are now happily married….no thanks to Keith Bardwell.

Before continuing any further, I am going to go ahead and call Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell from Hammond, in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana a racist. A racist who has no business being a Justice of the Peace, sworn to uphold the laws of the United States of America.

This issue was decided by the Supreme Court on June, 12, 1967 when it declared: “The Government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.” See Loving vs Virginia and the story behind the ruling.

“Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival,” wrote Chief Justice Warren. “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

This has been the law of the land for over 40 years.

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According to JP Keith Bardwell, he refused to issue a marriage license out of concern for the children of such a marriage and that it has been his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long. He refutes the notion that he is a racist.

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Keith Bardwell told AP. “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. “My main concern is for the children.”

After having discussions with both blacks and whites, he said he has come to the conclusion that: “Most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society.

“I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves,” Bardwell said. “In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer.”

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Beth Humphrey said she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell’s wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples.

According to the Census Bureau, Tangipahoa Parish is about 70 percent white and 30 percent black.

Humphrey says the case boils down to discrimination.The couple said they plan to consult the U.S. Justice Department about the matter.

Beth Humphrey is an account manager for a marketing firm. Terrence McKay is a welder and they had just returned to Louisiana. Humphrey says she plans to enroll in the University of New Orleans to pursue a masters degree in minority politics.

“That was one thing that made this so unbelievable,” she said. “It’s not something you expect in this day and age. We are looking forward to having children, and all our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for this, we’re typical happy newlyweds.”

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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.

“It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann. “He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it.”

The NAACP branch of Tangipahoa Parish has also gotten involved. It has forwarded the case to the state and national levels of the civil rights group, calling for Keith Bardwell to resign because of his refusal to issue the marriage license.

“He’s an elected public official and one of his duties is to marry people, he doesn’t have the right to say he doesn’t believe in it,” said Patricia Morris, president of the NAACP branch of Tangipahoa Parish, located near the Mississippi line. “If he doesn’t do what his position calls for him to do, he should resign from that position.”

Keith Bardwell said that in the 34 years he has been a justice of the peace he has never married couples of different races.

“I do not, do not, do mixed-race marriages,” he said. “I  always guide them to another justice of the peace. They can go other places and get married. A justice of the peace does not have to marry anybody,” Bardwell said.

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In my opinion…. No one should have to put up with the racist attitudes of a bigot masquerading under the pretense that he cares what happens to the children of mixed-race parents. It is none of his business. No one asked for his opinion much less his permission to get married. If he can’t do his job without interjecting his personal biases then he should not be a Justice of the Peace. He should resign or be removed from office… my opinion.

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15 Responses to “Mixed-Race Couple Denied Marriage License”

  1. Tony cassagnol said

    This is racism in its classic form. It’s sad to note that in 2009 —almost 2010 —- that racism is alive and well in these United States of America. Pathetic and unfortunate. this gentlemen needs to read all the success stories of all interracial marriages and relationships. He needs to follow the law and watch the classic movie “Guess Whose Coming to Dinner”. There are no more pure-breed races. We all are a mixture of several races, just like Tiger Woods. We are all part of the Human
    Race. This gentleman must resign and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. He is as prejudice as they come and clearly ignorant about agape loveand what obsticles it can overcome. Those obsticles are the ones created by bigots and racists just like himself. Shame on you!

    • Tea Party Republican said

      Wassup my tea party bangers! Where yall at to jump on this issue?
      Racism is very real. It is fueled by the republican party and its tea party followers.

  2. Marco said

    That official should resign. If he doesn’t, he should be removed from office. He has no right to decide who should marry for any reason. It is not his call or business. I bet he’s a republican!

  3. Veronica said

    He denied their request to be married, based soley on race – so yes this IS racist and should not be tolerated.

  4. Tia said

    I believe very strongly that if any two people who have the mental capacity to fall in love and to comprehend their actions, they should be allowed to wed. Whether they are black and white, Chinese and Greek, male and male or female and female. These are factors that the heart doesn’t recognize and neither should the courts. What right does any official have to say that what is seen on the outside should impact what the heart feels within?

  5. Kathy said

    How has this man not abided by the laws of the land for this long? Has no one ever complained? He needs to resign and keep his racist attitudes to himself and even share them with his wife, if she cares to listen. No one should frequent his property or request his services.

  6. Skep said

    “After having discussions with both blacks and whites, he said he has come to the conclusion that: “Most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society.“

    “I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves,” Bardwell said. “In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer.””

    …Yeah, because we can see how being a mixed race person effected our president, a person accepted by over 50% of voting Americans…

    • Mercy said

      what you say usually can show/reveal your behavior. Do we even need to debate/know/research whether this guy is a racist? Now we know, if not, need to know by asking ourselves; what/who makes mixed race children suffer? Has anybody thought about what statistics reveal about mixed race population in the not too distant future the world over. And how will mixed race children suffer given the fact that it will not matter then?

      Poor fellow. Is it really true that you cant teach old dogs new tricks or old dogs cant learn new tricks?


  7. steve said

    Blah, blah, blah. If you think for one minute that men and women that sit on the bench don’t interject their personal beliefs from that same bench, then you’re living in a dream land. Mr. Bardwell did not say they couldn’t get married, only that he wouldn’t issue the license. And anyone associated with the ACLU that doesn’t believe that they interject their personal beliefs on the general public, guess again. How do you think we get new laws??? They have to start as someone’s personal beliefs. Maybe we have too many laws and not enough common sense???

  8. chuck said

    I hope the lesson in this story is not lost on heterosexuals. The State Supreme Court of California decided that denying gays a marriage was unconstitutional, so the citizens of the state of California told the State Supreme Court of California to stick it where the sun don’t shine and held their own referendum (opposition paid for by the Mormon church). In this referendum the majority decided by vote on the civil rights of the minority. This isn’t supposed to happen. Can you imagine putting your civil rights up for a vote. This affected thousands of loving gay couples who wanted to get married. Laws are made to be broken, even by the majority of the citizens of California. The justice in Louisiana only denied one loving couple a marriage, not thousands. If you are offended by his decision, then you should be greatly offended by the citizens of California. If you are not offended by the citizens of California then you are a hypocrite plain and simple. The Louisiana couple had an opportunity to go down the street and look for justice who obeys the laws. The thousands of gay couples in California were left to hope for a better day and a better world where they too can join the rest of the country in the pursuit of happiness. The citizens of California basically told loving gay couples that this life and this state are not for you. We would strongly suggest you move it along – hopefully to another state. I would not recommend Louisiana. Maybe a state where the church is not in control.

  9. zeusiswatching said

    This Justice of the Peace is a bigot pure and simple. What is sad is that he may be the only JP trying to deny people the right to marry in contravention to the law, but you can be sure there are plenty of rednecks and billies out there who agree with him.

  10. redplanet said

    He should go to the White House and discuss children of interracial marriages with Barack. Perhaps he might like to tell him how he feels sorry for him…the Nobel winning POTUS, born of 2 “races”. I’d love to hear his talking points on this one.

    My concern in this story is how did he get away with this for so long. Did no one else felt secure enough to speak out against this outrageous man and his wife?

  11. Ryan Bennick said

    Thank you Zuesiswatching. Your comment illustrates the hypocrisy of many in society. Certain people cry racism when anything doesn’t go their way, or to gain an unfair advantage (i.e., special treatment by those trying to avoid the appearance of impropriety no matter how unfounded). Many white people (and others) are so pathetic that they feel driven to defend and advocate for black people as if they are the white person’s personal project or pet. But saying “cracker” or “white boy” or “billies” isn’t racist. This simply illustrates the double-standard. People love to advocate for diversity and freedom of speech…but only when it serves their own interests. There are people who believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality, and those that believe that it does not. There are people who believe that the Bible condemns interracial marriages, and those that believe that it does not. Diversity is synonymous with differences. Justice of the Peace Bardwell should be free to choose not to support interracial marriages. This is not racism, and anybody who claims that it is is sick. And of course the fact that this man is accepting of black people in general is completely ignored by the instigators; those bent on punishing and ostracizing others who do not think exactly the way that they do. If you have a breeder of German Shepherds is the breeder a racist because he does not want his bitches to lay down with a Bichon Frise? Of course not. And while this may seem like a ridiculous analogy at first blush, if you think about it, it is actually quite apposite. They are both dogs, just like Caucasians, African Americans, Latinos, etc., are all people; all part of the HUMAN RACE. ….My personal opinion is that God would not have created such uniqueness in people if he wanted us all to become mongrels.

  12. […] Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell did what everyone was telling him to do – he resigned. Read the background story here. The office of Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne said it had received a statement from Mr […]

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