Justice of peace in marriage flap resigns

Published: Nov. 3, 2009 at 7:23 PM

BATON ROUGE, La., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- A Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry an interracial couple has resigned, officials said Tuesday.

Keith Bardwell -- who the couple said refused to issue a marriage license for them and then refused to perform a marriage ceremony -- resigned as a justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward, Jacques Berry, a spokesman for the Louisiana secretary of state's office said.

Bardwell had come under pressure from Gov. Bobby Jindal and other elected officials to resign following news reports he refused to marry Beth Humphrey, 30, and Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond, La.

The couple -- who were married by another justice of the peace -- filed a federal discrimination lawsuit accusing Bardwell and his wife, Beth Bardwell, of violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, CNN reported.

The lawsuit alleges Beth Bardwell asked Humphrey in a telephone conversation whether Humphrey and McKay were a "mixed couple."

"We don't do interracial weddings," Beth Bardwell allegedly told Humphrey.

Keith Bardwell told CNN affiliate WAFB, Baton Rouge, La., he would not apologize.

"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 said.

He told the Hammond Daily Star last month his main concern in refusing to wed the couple was that he thinks interracial marriages don't last.

"I'm not a racist," he said. "I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children."

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