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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Newlywed won't tolerate 'overt racism' by Louisiana official

 The woman who was denied a marriage license by a Louisiana justice of the peace because he refused to marry interracial couples said the official should lose his job.
Beth McKay says she's still hurt over the controversy surrounding her marriage to her black fiance.
Beth McKay says she's still hurt over the controversy surrounding her marriage to her black fiance.

Beth McKay said she never could have expected what she heard from Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell when she called his office a week ago to officiate her marriage to her African-American fiance, Terence.
McKay spoke with Bardwell's wife to make arrangements for the ceremony.
"At the end of the conversation, she said that she had to ask me a question. She asked if this was an interracial marriage." When McKay replied yes, she was told, "Well, we don't do interracial weddings or marriages."
McKay said she was beyond shock. "We are used to the closet racism, but we're not going to tolerate that overt racism from an elected official."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is calling to have Bardwell's license revoked, and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is calling for his dismissal -- a notion shared by McKay.
"He's not representing all the people that he is supposed to be representing," McKay said. "He's only representing the people with his same opinions."

Bardwell has not returned repeated calls from CNN, but he told a local newspaper in a story published Thursday that he was not a racist and he was concerned for the children who might be born of the relationship.McKay later married Terence with the help of another justice of the peace in the same parish.
Bardwell also said, in his experience, that most interracial marriages don't last.
Video"We're just kind of hurt, you know?" McKay told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Friday. "This doesn't take care of the problem. He's been in his position for 34 years. So, it doesn't take care of the problems that we have to deal with on a daily basis."
McKay said her friends and family have been extremely supportive and she believes this situation occurred for a reason.

The Supreme Court struck down laws against interracial marriage in the landmark 1967 Loving v. Virginia case. Richard and Mildred Loving, who married in Washington, D.C., were arrested in their Virginia home with their marriage license framed and hanging on the wall, for the simple fact of being husband and wife.

In the unanimous decision, the court said that "Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the state."

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said in a statement Bardwell's practices and comments were deeply disturbing.
"Not only does his decision directly contradict Supreme Court rulings, it is an example of the ugly bigotry that divided our country for too long," she said. (Source:

“It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann. She said the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 “that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.” “He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it,” Schwartzmann said.

In regards to Bardwell's claims that   he was concerned for the children who might be born of the relationship, I found this statement:

"Racists use excuses like that all the time, said Ryan Peterson in (website address:, Ryan Peterson states:

 "Keith Bardwell is dreaming if he thinks anyone will believe he's not prejudiced because "he treats all interracial couples the same, like dirt." But the bottom line is that Bardwell is putting himself above Louisiana law, which places no racial restrictions on people wishing to marry, so he needs to be removed from office."


The number of interracial marriages have skyrocketed, nearly quadrupling between 1970 and 2005, the most recent year for which there is census data. As of 2005, nearly 8.5 million Americans are living in so-called mixed marriages.


It is great to see that Beth and Terence can get married, and that Bardwell might get dismissed from his job!


Mike Licht said...

Tangipahoa Parish has another claim to fame: It was the filming location for In the Heat of the Night, the TV show about race and the law.


Wayne said...

Hi Mike,
thanks for the comment and for visiting my blog.Wow I never knew that about Tangipaho Parish,thanks for educating me and everyone who reads your response!

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.