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Resignation of justice who refused to marry interracial couple 'long overdue,' Jindal says

By The Associated Press

November 04, 2009, 6:21AM

A Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry interracial couples resigned Tuesday, after weeks of calls for his ouster from civil rights groups and several public officials, including the governor.

keith_bardwell.JPGKeith Bardwell acknowledged he routinely recused himself from marrying interracial couples.

Keith Bardwell quit with a one-sentence statement to Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne: "I do hereby resign the office of Justice of the Peace for the Eighth Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, effective November 3, 2009."

Gov. Bobby Jindal called Bardwell's resignation "long overdue."

Beth Humphrey, who is white, has said she and her now-husband, Terence McKay, who is black, received their marriage license from the parish clerk of court, where they also got a list of people qualified to perform the ceremony. When she called Bardwell's office on Oct. 6 to ask, Humphrey said Bardwell's wife told her that the justice wouldn't sign their marriage license because they were a "mixed couple."

When questioned, Bardwell, who is white, acknowledged he routinely avoids marrying interracial couples because he believes children born to them end up suffering. In interviews, he said he refers the couples to other justices of the peace, who then perform the ceremony, which happened in this case.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said in an October interview with The Associated Press. "I think those children suffer, and I won't help put them through it."

Bardwell didn't return repeated calls Tuesday to comment about his resignation, which followed calls for his removal from officials including Jindal and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.

"We're saddened that it took national attention to this issue, which was decided back in 1967 by the Supreme Court, and also that it took public admonishment from other elected leaders in order for him to resign," said Laura Catlett, a lawyer for Humphrey and McKay.

Jindal said Bardwell made the right decision.

"What he did was clearly wrong and this resignation was long overdue," the governor said in a statement.

Landrieu said Bardwell's refusal to marry the couple reflected terribly on the state.

"By resigning ... and ending his embarrassing tenure in office, Justice Bardwell has finally consented to the will of the vast majority of Louisiana citizens and nearly every governmental official in Louisiana ... We are better off without him in public service," she said.

Humphrey and McKay have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Bardwell. Catlett said the resignation won't stop the lawsuit, which also names Bardwell's wife as a defendant.

"This does not in any way change the fact that he, with his wife's help, discriminated against an interracial couple while he was a public official," Catlett said.

Bardwell was elected in 1975 as justice of the peace in Ponchatoula, 55 miles north of New Orleans. His term was set to run through 2014, and he had said that even before the flap, he hadn't intended to run for re-election.

Melinda Deslatte of The Associated Press wrote this report.



Comments

 (101 total)     RSS
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crrodriguez
Posted by crrodriguez
November 04, 2009, 9:02AM

According to some people, neither are interracial marriages. "If God had wanted the races to mix, he wouldn't have put oceans between them." It's all bigotry, don't fool yourself.

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lnxmeme
Posted by lnxmeme
November 04, 2009, 9:10PM

CR, you really get off on being a clown- don't you?

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WhatCorruption
Posted by Mark Richard
November 04, 2009, 9:39AM

When God made Adam and Eve he called them both Adam. It was Adam who named Eve "Eve". So technically God made Adam and Adam.

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lnxmeme
Posted by lnxmeme
November 04, 2009, 8:52PM

Mark what the hell are you talking about?

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crrodriguez
Posted by crrodriguez
November 04, 2009, 9:09AM

We were all going to hell for believing that the earth spun around the sun, too. There's no sense in arguing with ignorance.

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crrodriguez
Posted by crrodriguez
November 04, 2009, 9:12AM

Btw, if you're so religious, shouldn't the "g" in your name be capitalized? People like you will continue to put people like Bardwell in office and you will deserve what you and your children get when the tables are turned. Have a great day.

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6warddude2
Posted by 6warddude2
November 03, 2009, 10:52PM

WOW,,Bardwell has been in office pulling this type of BS off for over 30 years.......only in louisiana and in the dirty south.....you gotta love it..

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Tyrell213
Posted by Tyrell
November 03, 2009, 11:01PM

This is Louisiana, what do you expect. I bet if Bardweel ran for a political office there he would win.

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qme
Posted by twho
November 03, 2009, 11:22PM

Look at his picture good. It looks like something is missing, in the brain area. You only need a GED or be elected to serve as a "justice of the peace". This retard should have been removed. Will he get a pension? He doesn't deserve it. He should go to jail,he broke the law he was suppose to uphold.

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xman20002000
Posted by xman20002000
November 04, 2009, 2:58AM

Didn't Blakely proclaim New Orleans racist.

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ImWatchingYou!
Posted by I'mWatchingYou!
November 04, 2009, 3:08AM

This guy is of course the only racist in La.

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rhettswife
Posted by rhettswife
November 04, 2009, 7:50AM

Why did it take 30 years before this individual was exposed? Is Pi back in the state - or did he make his statement from some other location?

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nolakiwi
Posted by nolakiwi
November 04, 2009, 8:01AM

Why is this man labelled a racist I wonder? He truly believes in what he has done and I for one applaud him. At no stage did he pick on any particular couple, it was ALL interracial couples. He was thinking of the children that come from these relationships and I think what he believes in some ways are correct.

Just because you don't believe in everything other people do does not make you a racist. If he said he didn't want to marry people of colour then yes, he would be a racist.

Tell me, if he had of been a black man and felt this way, would you all still call him racist? Probably not!

We are all entitled to feel certain ways about certain things. This is what Freedom of Speech is all about. Didn't you all lose ancestors to have this privlege?

If my children had of considered an interracial marriage I would also have mentioned some of the things that this man did because lets face it, not everyone accepts children of interracial marriages! And this is a fact! My first and only thought would be towards the kids. And this is what Bardwell did.

I hope this couple have a wonderful life together and that their children don't face any discriminations from people like some of the ones commenting on here.

Yes! Racism is alive and well everywhere. In all races!

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mkremser
Posted by Meesh
November 04, 2009, 9:01AM

I feel sorry for your children.

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WhatCorruption
Posted by Mark Richard
November 04, 2009, 9:16AM

I feel sorry for people who feel that their own personal opinions should outweigh the law. It's okay when white men did their Sunday roamp through the quarters and mixed babies popped up but it is taboo and downright a heresy for people of different races to marry?? Louisiana sure loves those gray areas don't we. USA Today describes Louisiana as a state given to debauchey and not conventionalism. We love our "brand" and we do everything to keep it alive!!

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gjellyfish
Posted by gjellyfish
November 04, 2009, 11:07AM

"At no stage did he pick on any particular couple, it was ALL interracial couples."

That's what makes it RACISM and PREJUDICE. "Prejudice" means to judge someone, or a group of people, before you know them.

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oldnohastogo
Posted by oldnohastogo
November 04, 2009, 3:42PM

Posted by nolakiwi
November 04, 2009, 8:01AM
Why is this man labelled a racist I wonder? He truly believes in what he has done and I for one applaud him. At no stage did he pick on any particular couple, it was ALL interracial couples. He was thinking of the children that come from these relationships and I think what he believes in some ways are correct.

Just because you don't believe in everything other people do does not make you a racist. If he said he didn't want to marry people of colour then yes, he would be a racist.
++++++++++
To answer your question:
rac*ism, noun: 1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
It is the fact that he "truly believes" in what he has done (as do you, apparently) that makes it racism. And his wife DID say that he doesn't marry people of color to those 'without' it.

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iwilson999
Posted by iwilson999
November 06, 2009, 8:20AM

Rodeo Bill and oldnohastogo thanks for the response to nolakiwi. I couldnt have stated it better myself.

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Rodeo Bill rides again
November 04, 2009, 8:28AM

Nolakiwi, Bardwell is a racist because he does exactly as you say he does; he holds an unfounded and stereotyped point of view regarding the mixing of the races --that is racism, and because you hold the same views you are a racist too.

The fact that "He truly believes in what he has done . . . " does not mean he is not a racist, Hitler truly believed in what he did too.

Yo, Kiwi, go to New Zealand and telll a Maori what you think about Bardwell. After you get out of the hospital let me know how it went.

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americaalive
Posted by americaalive
November 04, 2009, 8:36AM

Modern education in the US is so poor. He would be a racist if he denied the marriage permit because the purity of one race would be diluted by mixture with another. That's not what happened. The idiots are the ones who did not just go get married elsewhere, but seek money and fame through our horrific legal system. Meanwhile, all the hep cats sit quietly by as white children have to answer "how will you contribute to diversity at X university?". Now that's state-sponsored racism that no one dares criticize.

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