Skip to comments.JP refuses to marry couple
Posted on 10/15/2009 3:01:31 PM PDT by TornadoAlley3
Hammond, Louisiana--A justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple last week because of concern for the children who might be born of that relationship.
Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parishs 8th Ward, also said it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
Im not a racist, Bardwell said. I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children.
Beth Humphrey, 30, said she and her boyfriend, Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond, intend to consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.
Humphrey said she called Bardwell Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She said Bardwells wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples.
I simply cant believe he can do that. Thats blatant discrimination, Humphrey said.
The Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union and the Tangipahoa Parish Chapter of the NAACP agree.
Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie R. Esman said Bardwells refusal to sign the license is both tragic and illegal.
Pat Morris, NAACP Tangipahoa Parish chapter president, said she was shocked to hear that the choice of a spouse is still an issue in Tangipahoa Parish.
Humphrey, a Covington native, said she was discharged from the military over a year ago. McKay is originally from Franklinton. They met where she works, she said.
The couple had planned to go to South Carolina for the wedding, where they would be married in a traditional ceremony by her brother, who is a youth minister, Humphrey said. But McKay lost his job, and by the time he was re-employed he was unable to get off for the wedding.
They decided to go ahead and get married here to make it right before God, she said.
We decided on a very short, simple ceremony with a couple of my friends as witnesses, she said. Later, when he got some time off, we would go to South Carolina for the traditional ceremony, although we would actually already be officially married.
Toward the conclusion of her conversation with Bardwells wife, Humphrey said she was asked if this was an interracial marriage. Humphrey told her it was.
I have no idea why she asked me that, Humphrey said. I suppose she asks everyone that question.
Humphrey said the wife told her that Bardwell does not do interracial marriages.
I dont understand this because he is an elected official and discrimination is against the law, Humphrey said.
Bardwell, who is handicapped, said he has been a JP for 34 years and has never had opposition, but this is his last term.
According to the Secretary of States elected officials database, his current term will expire Dec. 31, 2014.
Bardwell said from his experience, 99 percent of the time the interracial couple consists of a black man and white woman.
I find that rather confusing, he said.
He said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. Bardwell said he came to the conclusion that most black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society.
Yet, the children are innocent. They had nothing to do with that, he said.
In many cases, he said, the grandparents or a relative ends up with the children.
I dont do interracial marriages because I dont want to put children in a situation they didnt bring on themselves, Bardwell said. In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer.
He said if he does an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all.
I try to treat everyone equally, he said.
No one told Humphrey she and her boyfriend could not get married, Bardwell said. He said his wife even suggested she see Justice of the Peace Terri Crosby of Tickfaw, which Humphrey said she did and Crosby agreed to sign the license.
Bardwell said a justice of the peace is not required to conduct a marriage ceremony and is at liberty to recuse himself from a marriage or anything else.
He said the state attorney general told him years ago that he would eventually get into trouble for not performing interracial marriages.
I told him if I do, Ill resign, Bardwell said. I have rights too. Im not obligated to do that just because Im a justice of the peace.
JPs do not get paid for performing marriages, although the couple may give a gratuity, he said.
Im not trying to mistreat anyone. Im just trying to treat everyone equal, he said.
Esman said it is indefensible for this issue to arise in 2009. No one in Tangipahoa Parish or anywhere else should have to submit to judicial approval of their choice of a spouse.
This has been the law for over 50 years, she said. In 1963, in the case Loving vs. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot prohibit marriages simply because of the race of the spouses.
The government cannot discriminate based upon race, which is what is happening here, Esman said. The choice of a spouse is deeply personal, and the government simply cannot prevent you from marrying the person you love, based upon skin color.
Bardwells decision and his position are wrong, Morris said.
I think he went a little too far this time, she said. What does it matter if one is black and one is white. Its their decision, their lives.
According to the clerk of courts office, getting a marriage license is a relatively easy process. Application for the license must be made three days before the ceremony because there is a 72-hour waiting period, although this can be waived by the judge, JP or minister.
The applicants are asked if they have previously been married. If so, they must show how the marriage ended, such as divorce.
A certified copy of their birth certificate and Social Security care are required. No blood test is required in Louisiana.
The license fee is $35, and the license must be signed within the State of Louisiana. Once it is signed by the minister, JP or judge, the original is returned to the clerks office. A certified copy is made and sent to the couple, and the original is put on file.
Oh, fer Pete’s sake! What frigging century is this, anyway?
Someone retire this fossil.
This is ridiculous. A justice of the peace doesn’t have that kind of discretion, and the reasoning is just silly.
If the value of jackasses goes up that parish can declare a dividend
“Someone retire this fossil.”
Dress hi in one of his old Klan robes and throw him in jail...he’ll learn about inter-racial relations...
I can understand preachers and ministers refusing to marry a couple but not JPs. They don’t exist to render moral judgements on the bride and groom.
Was it David Duke?
Where was this crazy man when we really needed him; that day Obama’s mom and dad showed up to marry.
“Where was this crazy man when we really needed him; that day Obamas mom and dad showed up to marry.”
Someone had to say it, I guess...think will this make the reprint at HuffPo?
My reaction, too. A priest or a minister has discretion if he sees problems or impediments, but I don’t think a Justice of the Peace can do this.
Too bad, in a way. If a couple comes in drunk, a JP should be able to send them out to sober up, maybe. But it’s not his job to do more than say, maybe, “Are you sure you want to get married?”
It wouldn’t have mattered. Chairman Zer0’s mom was already knocked up for 3 months before she got married.
He needs to step down. His time was up about 40 years ago.
They reprint FReeper comments at the HuffnPuff Post?
I wonder if any of mine have been found worthy?
He was in the US - not Kenya.
Unless the law states he cannot recuse himself, he has the right to do so. Interracial marriages aren’t as problematic as they have been in the past, but that doesn’t mean his observations aren’t still true for his region. He gave them another JP’s name and didn’t try to prevent their marriage altogether.
I hope the couple went elsewhere and enjoy a long happy marriage. And I hope the JP finds another line of work where his personal views are irrelevant.
Yes because marriages between members of the same race never fail. /s
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