Just days after President Obama promised to end the outdated Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, allowing gays to serve openly in the military, we were served a shocking reminder that not everything is perfect on the civil rights front.
Keith Bardwell, a Louisiana justice of the peace, denied Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay a marriage license because they are an interracial couple; Humphrey is white and McKay is black.
Bardwell defended his decision by saying, “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way.”
He further commented that in his experience, interracial marriages don’t last for long, and he felt bad for any children that would result from the marriage.
While racism isn’t a charge that should be used lightly, what exactly does Bardwell expect us to think he is when he is explicitly denying marriage licenses solely due to racial concerns?
Besides being an exceptionally poor decision, Bardwell’s action is illegal. A 1967 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Loving v. Virginia found in a unanimous decision that Virginia’s law banning interracial marriage was unconstitutional.
It’s unconscionable that in 2009 we still have judges who feel that they have the right to act as if they live in the Antebellum South. Bardwell said that he was perfectly willing to marry two black persons, but not interracial couples. This smacks of old-fashioned segregation, a policy America ended decades ago.
While it’s easy to say, “Oh, this is just going on in Louisiana,” we Coloradans would never tolerate such a terrible judge, Bardwell’s actions shine a sorry light on our entire nation. America should demand that Bardwell resign his judgeship.