17 October 2009

Louisiana JP refuses marriage license to interracial couple

If you are one of the folks who want to believe that the election of an African-American president of the United States suggests that we have entered a post-racial America, think again.

If the blatant racism we've seen at the tea parties doesn't convince you otherwise, how about this:

Last week, Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace in Louisiana, refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple. He said he did it "for the children", indicating that it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long and that the children suffer as a result.

This has got my blood boiling.

First of all, it is not a JP's job to predict which marriages might last and which ones might not. I have several friends in interracial marriages that have lasted much longer than either of my white-white marriages, and which are still going strong. And their children are some of the most beautiful, happy, and well-adjusted children I know. Meanwhile, there are a lot of all-white broken families out there. In other words, race is beside the point.

Second, if Bardwell would take the trouble to learn the law that it's his job to support, he would find that interracial marriage is legal in Louisiana, and has been for decades. And, as Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman has pointed out, he would find that this kind of discrimination is illegal today as well as tragic.

I hope that that this case will be taken to court. Bardwell must be held accountable for his despicable act of prejudicial discrimination, lest it be seen as acceptable. At the very least, his license should be revoked. At best, he should apologize and resign.

After all, this is 2009, not 1959 -- isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:28 PM

    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.