Justice of the Peace breaks silence - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Justice of the Peace breaks silence

Keith Bardwell (Copyright 2009 WAFB. All rights reserved.) Keith Bardwell (Copyright 2009 WAFB. All rights reserved.)
Terence McKay Terence McKay
Beth Humphrey Beth Humphrey

By David Spunt - email

TANGIPAHOA PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Keith Bardwell, a white justice of the peace in Louisiana who refused to marry an interracial couple, said Saturday he has no plans to resign.

"It's kind of hard to apologize for something that really and truly down in your heart you don't feel you've done wrong," Bardwell said. "I don't regret what I did and if it ever came up again, I'd have to do the same thing."

Bardwell would not issue a marriage license or perform the ceremony for Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay of Hammond, Louisiana. Humphrey is white and McKay is black. The two were eventually married by another justice of the peace.

The story began to make international headlines Friday. Since that time, requests have intensified for Bardwell to resign or be removed from office. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has called for an investigation into the case.

"This is a clear violation of constitutional rights and federal and state law," Jindal said late Friday.  

The governor called on Bardwell's actions to be fully reviewed by the Judiciary Commission and said "disciplinary action should be taken immediately, including the revoking of his license."

Louisiana's Judicial Code of Ethics requires officials like Bardwell to "perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice." Bardwell has held the elected position for more than 30 years in Tangipahoa Parish, which is located north of New Orleans. He said he does not believe that interracial marriages last and it is not his place to perform them.

"Seriously, it's 2009 and we are still dealing with a form of racism," McKay said. "He's saying that 99 percent of [interracial marriage] winds up in divorce. How many people get married that winds up in divorce, black or white? It's unethical to me, because he's an elected official and he cannot do that."

"I stand by my decision and it is my right not to marry an interracial couple," Bardwell said.

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