Friday, October 16, 2009

Wedding Blues

A justice of the peace in Louisiana refuses to marry interracial couples.

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

Neither Bardwell nor the couple immediately returned phone calls from The Associated Press. But Bardwell told the Daily Star of Hammond that he was not a racist.

“I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house,” Bardwell said. “My main concern is for the children.”

Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

“I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves,” Bardwell said. “In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer.”

Of course, based on that logic, he wouldn’t have any objection to same-sex marriages; they can’t produce children, so it’s all good, right?

Aside from the fact that it’s unconstitutional to discriminate against interracial marriage and has been for over forty years, it’s clearly none of his business how the marriage turns out; he’s a justice of the peace, not a minister or a marriage counselor. His job is to take the fee, issue the license, and perform the ceremony if called upon. And I wonder if he would have an objection if a couple that wasn’t black and white wanted to get married in his presence, but perhaps Asian and black or Native American and white? Would he refuse to marry them, too? There are a few more races in the world that just black and white.

As Melissa notes, Mr. Bardwell may think he’s doing the couple a favor and helping them avoid racial problems, but he’s actually doing just the opposite. Frankly, I just hope he gets a real practical lesson in how the legal system works.