A Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry an interracial couple has stepped down. Beth Humphrey makes an exclusive statement to ESSENCE.com. Get the latest on the case.
Reaction to justice of the peace Keith Bardwell's Resignation
UPDATE 11/3/09: In an exclusive statement to ESSENCE.com, Beth Humphrey says: "I wonder if he feels he did anything wrong? Being an interracial couple, you're concerned with how people feel about you. It's a shame. I'm glad he resigned because he shouldn't have that position, but I wonder if he's resigning because he didn't have any legal option or because he felt he did something wrong? He doesn't think he did anything wrong and refuses to apologize, so again, I am glad he resigned. This way, no other couples have to experience what we went through."
Resignation Is Effective Immediately
UPDATE 11/3/09: A Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry a couple because the bride was White and groom was Black has resigned, according to the Associated Press. Jacques Berry, the Louisiana secretary of state's Office spokesman, says Keith Bardwell's resignation is effective today. Bardwell refused to perform Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay's ceremony because they are of different races. The official has admitted he routinely recuses himself from marrying interracial couples because he thinks such marriages are harmful to the couples' children. Another justice of the peace eventually married the couple. Humphrey and McKay have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Bardwell.
Interracial Couple Speaks Out
UPDATE 10/19/09: Terenece and Beth McKay continue to call for the resignation of the Lousianna justice of the peace, who refused to marry them because they were of different races. Keith Bardwell continues to stand by his actions and told CNN, "It's kind of hard to apologize for something that you really and truly feel down in your heart you haven't done wrong."
The McKays are taking the good with the bad, as their story has unified other interracial couples.
"A lot of people have come up to us and said, 'We're in interracial relationships as well,' not just black and white, and just encouraged us to stand up for our rights and speak out against things like this," Beth told CNN. - CJ
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Justice of the Peace Stands By Decision
UPDATE 10/18/09: Louisiana justice of the peace Keith Bardwell told CNN affiliate WAFB that he stands by his decision not to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, despite receiving criticism from across the county.
Bardwell doesn't feel that he has done anything wrong and claims that he is not racist even though he refused to marry Beth Humphrey, 30, who is white and her boyfriend (now husband) Terence McKay, 32, who is Black. Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has even chimed in saying Bardwell should be removed from his position.
Bardwell said that he was concerned for the children who might be born to Humphrey and McKay and that in his experience, interracial marriages do not last.
Nonetheless, the couple did get married by another justice of the peace on October 9, after which they reached out to an attorney because they too would like Bardwell to resign. The incident has since garnered attention from the National Urban League.-WLW
Governor and Senator Want Bardwell Dismissed
UPDATED 10/17/09: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) are speaking out against their state's judicial review board to get Justice of the Peace and Judge Keith Bardwell removed from his post after refusing to perform an interracial marriage, according to theHill.com.
Bardwell, who contends he is not racist, acknowledges that he does ceremonies for Black couples all the time. But his defense isn't flying with the state's top officials. Jindal and Landrieu have separately called for investigations into Judge Bardwell's appointment and want him relieved of his duties immediately, citing his decision contradicts Supreme Court rulings, is bigoted, and discriminatory.
No word as of yet from the Louisiana Judiciary Committee.-WLW
New Bride Wants Justice
UPDATED 10/17/09: Beth McKay, the woman at the center of the Louisiana justice of the peace controversy, is speaking out saying she wants him to lose his job, according to CNN.com.
McKay says she was shocked by what Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell said when she called his office a week ago to hire him to officiate her marriage to her African-American fiance, Terence. McKay says she was asked by Bardwell's wife at the end of their initial conversation if this was an interracial marriage, to wish she answered yes. Then was told, they don't do interracial weddings or marriages.
McKay later married Terence with the help of another justice of the peace in the same parish. The Supreme Court nullified the laws against interracial marriage in 1967 with the famous Loving v. Virginia case, where a white man was arrested in his own home for being married to his Black wife. -WLW
'There Is a Clear Violation of Constitutional Rights'
UPDATE 10/16/2009: Beth Humphrey, who is White, and Terence McKay, who is Black were denied a marriage license by Keith Bardwell, Justice of the Peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward, because he felt that interracial marriages don't last. Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal said that the state judiciary board should review the incident, according to CNN.com.
"This is a clear violation of constitutional rights and federal and state law. ... Disciplinary action should be taken immediately -- including the revoking of his license," the Republican governor said. Louisiana state senator Mary L. Landrieu said the committee should "use its authority to have Justice Bardwell dismissed from his position." She continues, "Not only does [Bardwell's] decision directly contradict Supreme Court rulings, it is an example of the ugly bigotry that divided our country for too long."
'The Judge Said He Didn't Believe in It'
UPDATE 10/15/2009: Imagine you're a couple in love and all you want to do is get married, but you're refused a marriage license because of your race. This is the case for one interracial New Orleans couple, who claim Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward, refused to give them a marriage license. According to CNN.com, the NAACP branch of Tangipahoa Parish are calling for Bardwell's resignation. "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," says Patricia Morris, president of the NAACP branch of Tangipahoa Parish, located near the Mississippi line
Bardwell told the Hammond's Daily Star newspaper, "I'm not a racist. I do ceremonies for Black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children."-QS
Tell us what you think about Bardwell's actions?