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Denied a Marriage License -- For Skin Color

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A biracial couple in Louisiana was denied a marriage license last week by a Justice of the Peace because he worried about the plight of the children who might be born of such a union.


Dr. Wendy Walsh: It's not been a week since momlogic posted an article about me and my own biracial babies. I prefaced the piece with the wisdom that raising biracial children in Obama-era America has become a non-issue, and my children have plenty of self-esteem. Many readers concurred, writing things like, "Next subject please."

Hold your horses, progressive thinkers! Read this: A biracial couple in Louisiana was denied a marriage license last week by a justice of the peace because he worried about the plight of the children who might be born of such a union.

Beth Humphrey, 30, a woman of European descent (read: needs sunblock) and her fiance, Terence McKay, 32 (who needs only a little less sunblock), were denied a marriage license by Keith Bardwell, 70, a justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward in Louisiana. The couple eventually found another justice of the peace and were married in her office. But now civil rights groups are trying to have Bardwell disbarred.

According to CNN, this was the justice's quote: "I'm not a racist," Bardwell told Hammond, Louisiana's Daily Star newspaper. "I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children."

Here's the funniest thing. When I went online to find photos of the couple, I found one of the groom first. I honestly could not tell if he was the black part of the couple or the white part. He looked kind of Hispanic to me. I searched for a photo of his wife, and voila, there she was with blond, blond hair and porcelain skin. But really. Her complexion was maybe two tiny tones lighter than her husband's. Nothing as exciting as Seal and Heidi Klum.

So, what's all the fuss about, Mr. Justice of the Peace? Oh yes, your age. Seventy. Back when you were a young man, all this stuff really was illegal.

Now the NAACP is involved, the media has caught on. Let the circus begin, Justice Bardwell. It's not the way you planned to begin your retirement, but maybe it's time the world puts you out to pasture. Thanks for your service for all those years. I'm sure you held up all the cultural conventions of the time in an honorable way. And now your time has come to relax a bit. Let that young, female justice who eventually married the McKays get her moment of glory.

next: Bus Driver Suspended ... for Wearing a Pink Tie!
33 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 16, 2009, 2:06 PM

I’m sure there’s more to the story then what we hear.

Mic October 16, 2009, 3:46 PM

Why? Because it seems like it can’t be possible? I believe it, & I am pissed the F off! I am in a biracial marriage, we have two beautiful biracial children, & we are just fine. Yes, there is prejudice in this world, but there is also goodness. There’s a reason I would NEVER live in the south!

Anonymous October 16, 2009, 6:30 PM

My husband and I have a couple friends who are in biracial relationships. One couple is married the other is engaged. The interesting thing, you don’t HAVE to be married to have kids. So, if it’s for “the kids” why can’t he figure out they can have kids regardless of whether or not he married them. It’s as rediculous as doctors and pharmacists being allowed to refuse birth control pills. It’s your job, do it!

hey you October 16, 2009, 8:35 PM

JOP’s perform weddings, clerk of court issues marriage licenses. He declined to perform the ceremony—NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LICENSE. Is it right? No.

OH and NIC get over it. There are TONS AND TONS of biracial couples in the south. I hate how some people preach about prejudice and stereotyping and then stereotype others. You are stereotyping southerners.

ame i. October 16, 2009, 10:35 PM

It is so sad that some people still have this mindset.
I’m 40, grew up in a small Southern town. Inter-racial relationships were highly frowned upon, even when I was 20 and moved to Memphis. We had “white” and “black” neighborhoods back then. I have no idea where families of other races lived. They must have known not to live in that back-woods town.
I’m glad that my daughters are growing up in a different town. We’ve lived in a great neighborhood for 10 years. Just about every skin-shade that exists is represented here. I’m glad that my kids have never thought to consider the race of any of their classmates & friends. If no one makes a big deal out of it when the kids are small, they don’t care if their friend is lighter or darker than they are. A friend is a friend.

MarMar October 18, 2009, 1:17 PM

Oh yes, horrible fate for those mixed-race kids. One might grow up and be President of the United States or something. :-P

michelle October 19, 2009, 9:40 AM

Wait, are you somehow trying to imply that the only thing strange about this guy’s refusal to marry them is that the groom is not that dark? What does that have to do with anything? So the discrimination would be somehow more understandable if he were darker? Are you of all people still indulging in that kind of “what are you, anyway” racial speculation? No, Wendy, the “funniest thing” is actually that this JOP was only verbalizing what a lot of people in this country still think. He’s not really concerned about “the children;” he’s a racist. [Why else would he actually feel the need to POINT OUT that he lets black people use his BATHROOM??] Before we pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves that this guy is some sort of crazy throwback, we all know that most US cities are still profoundly segregated. And let’s remember all the racism directed at the President. This JOP should be fired and put out to pasture, yes, but he still fits perfectly on the right wing and we all know he has plenty of company there.

david October 22, 2009, 6:00 AM

What really gets me is that everyone seems to be outraged because ONE interracial couple couldn’t marry, yet, hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians are denied this right everyday and the majority of people do not see this as the same type of prejudice thing. hmmmm

Emily October 26, 2009, 10:34 PM

Its really a crime to not allow interracial marriage. If there is true love, children will never suffer.

Me-Mo October 27, 2009, 5:17 PM

“Nothing as exciting as Seal and Heidi Klum” I don’t understand what is meant by your statement.What is so much more exciting about them ? Are you possibly making a refference to Seal’s darker complexion ? Are you pmplying that Mr.McKay is more acceptable because of his lighter skin than Seal ? I think you could have chosen your words better,while writing this article.You may offend somebody.

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