AP/Melinda Deslatte—A Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry a couple because the bride was white and groom was black resigned Tuesday.
Keith Bardwell, who is white, quit the post with a one-sentence statement to Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne and no explanation of his decision: “I do hereby resign the office of Justice of the Peace for the Eighth Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, effective November 3, 2009.”
Bardwell refused to perform the ceremony for Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay because they are of different races.
When questioned about his refusal, Bardwell acknowledged he routinely recuses himself from marrying interracial couples because he believes such marriages cause harm to the couples’ children. In interviews, he said he refers such couples to other justices of the peace, who then perform the ceremony, which happened in this case.
Humphrey has said she and McKay received their marriage license from the parish clerk of court, where they also received a list of people qualified to perform the ceremony. When she called Bardwell’s office to ask about the ceremony on Oct. 6, Humphrey said Bardwell’s wife told her that the justice wouldn’t sign their marriage license because they were a “mixed couple.”
Humphrey and McKay have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Bardwell.