Justice of the peace rejects interracial couple - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Justice of the peace rejects interracial couple; Governor calls for investigation

Terence McKay Terence McKay
Beth Humphrey Beth Humphrey

By David Spunt - email

HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is calling for the license of a justice of the peace to be revoked after the man refused to marry an interracial couple.

The justice of the peace says he believes interracial marriages are morally wrong and recently refused to perform the ceremony between a black man and white woman.

"This is a clear violation of constitutional rights and federal and state law," Jindal said late Friday.   The governor called on the man's actions to be fully reviewed by the Judiciary Commission and said "disciplinary action should be taken immediately - including the revoking of his license."

According to Keith Bardwell of the Tangipahoa Parish eighth ward, it is his right not to marry Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay. According to McKay, the couple had been looking forward to their wedding for a long time. He said he's still in shock that his dream wedding turned into a racial nightmare.

"It's disheartening," he said. "Seriously, it's 2009 and we are still dealing with a form of racism."

According to the Louisiana Judicial Code of Conduct, "A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice." When contacted by phone the justice would only say he stands by his decision and it is his right not to marry an interracial couple because he believes it is wrong. According to McKay, Bardwell is saying 99 percent of interracial marriages end up in divorce.

Pat Morris with the Hammond NAACP said she spoke to the organization's national headquarters in Baltimore and is calling for Bardwell to resign. He has been a justice of the peace since 1976 and his current term doesn't expire until Dec. 31, 2014.

After being denied by Bardwell, the couple traveled to Tickfaw and was married by Justice of the Peace Terri Crosby. She said she considers herself performing a privilege given to her by the state of Louisiana. McKay said he will talk with Beth about where they will take their fight, but he has no plans to speak to Bardwell.

"Good luck. I wish him the best. I don't wish him harm, but he was wrong," McKay said.

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