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By MARY FOSTER, Associated Press Writer Mary Foster, Associated Press Writer – Fri Oct 16, 4:50 am ET

NEW ORLEANS – A white 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 2 1/2 years.

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.

Humphrey, an account manager for a marketing firm, said she and McKay, a welder, just returned to Louisiana. She is white and he is black. 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.”

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. Bardwell suggested the couple go to another justice of the peace in the parish who agreed to marry them.

“We are looking forward to having children,” Humphrey said. “And all our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for this, we‘re typical happy newlyweds.”

“It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann. She said the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 “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.

According to the clerk of court’s office, application for a marriage license must be made three days before the ceremony because there is a 72-hour waiting period. The applicants are asked if they have previously been married. If so, they must show how the marriage ended, such as divorce.

Other than that, all they need is a birth certificate and Social Security card.

The license fee is $35, and the license must be signed by a Louisiana minister, justice of the peace or judge. The original is returned to the clerk’s office.

“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.”



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • What do you think?  Discrimination or a twisted act of protection for their future children?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Angelcart wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • I for one think that is just plain crazy!  If two people love each other than where’s the harm????  As far as the children, hubby and I discussed this the other week and both agreed that some of the most beautiful chilren are from bi-racial parents.  My gosh, look at Halle Barry (sp), Vanessa Williams.....come on, they are gorgeous!  Plus in my opinion, the world has changed and it’s one “big melting pot“.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Sandils1962 wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • My daughter is white and her boyfriend is black.  My grandson is biracial and he couldn’t be loved more by both sides of the family.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Deb Link wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • Absolutely discrimination....and self righteous!  Actually...I wouldn’t want someone that arrogant to perform the ceremony anyway.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • Sandi your grandson is so cute!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • LOL Deb! I love that attitude.  

      I don’t know what the law is and I don’t know if this judge can actually do that but if I lived in that area I would be trying to get him off the bench or disbarred.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lazylola wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • Wow....my boys are mixed and I have not encountered any issues (yet)about their race, of course dad isn’t in the picture (his choice) but his family was accepting of them...of course there is no communication now, but I don’t believe it to be a racial issue but more of an individual problem. He chose drugs and unemployment over his boys and his financial responsibility.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Zena Coleman wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • stupid judge taking his personal feeling to a job like that.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Janet Wooley wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • Where has this judge been with his head burried somewhere? WHAT AN ARROGANT JERK



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lori Daniell wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • I am disgusted by this!  If 2 people approach a Justice Of The Peace, together in love, who are they to deny them?  

      That is some seriously backwards way of thinking.

      A personal view point:  when I see an interracial couple, or interracial child, I am moved and I feel admiration because they are in touch with who they are, they are following their hearts and they know what love is, despite what society may have to say about it.  They know that their love will carry them. The beauty of their relationship is in the strength of their connection.    

      I say to this couple, come to Arizona.  I would be honored perform your ceremony.



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • Anyone who says they are not a racist and then makes reference to allowing black friends to use his bathroom in the same sentence is.....a racist. Let’s just hope this guy is close to retirement.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • Cyn I thought the same thing!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mztracy wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • This is disgusting!!!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Kyah wrote Oct 16, 2009
    • Yes, totally antiquated, backward thinking. I don’t know about him and those who think like him, but my complexion has nothing to do with my race, because I’m part of the human race. Love has no color, and love thy neighbor as thyself is the greatest commandment. Some people are stuck in the throes of ignorance, and it’s a shame when it’s a person of authority.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Oct 19, 2009
    • Saw this on Huffington Post and thought I was in my baby years – that Rosa Parks had never got on the bus – that Martin Luther King had yet had his dream realised........
      His comment about the bathroom just about summed him up as a racist, bigot – he should be sacked instantly. Such a sweeping statement about both races and inter racial marriage – every marriage is a risk but you don't need this to start it off – the other point which shocked me it wasn't the first time he had done this – this was the first time someone had hollered him out.
      People in Government office no matter what the level should be unbiased and leave thier views at home not inflict them on the general public.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Oct 20, 2009
    • MB that was a great article...thx for the link!

      I haven’t heard anything more other than the judge was going under review by a panel that the gov was going to put together.



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