United States: Interracial couple denied marriage in Louisiana
A marriage licence has been denied to an interracial couple in Louisiana by a justice of the peace, the Huffington Post said on October 15
Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, denied he was racist but said in his experience interracial marriages didn't last. He said he was acting out of concern for any children the couple may have.
On October 16, Bardwell told Associated Press: "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way.
"I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom.
"I treat them just like everyone else."
Huffington Post said Bardwell asked anyone who called about marriage if they were a mixed-race couple. If they are, he refused to marry them. "Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past 2 1/2 years."
The couple, Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay plan to consult the US justice department about filing a discrimination complaint.
The Post reported Humphrey said: "It's not something you expect in this day and age."
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann told the Post: "It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009.
"The Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1963 that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry."
The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee recommending it use on Bardwell "the most severe sanctions available, because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice".