What’s surprising about Louisiana justice of the peace Keith Bardwell isn’t that he denied to marry an interracial couple because he feared for the welfare of their mixed children, but that it took this long for anyone to report it. Sure, you might describe much of Louisiana as “backwoods” where the races still self-segregate (that happens everywhere!), but Bardwell has rebuffed the marriages of an estimated four interracial couples over the last two-and-a-half years. He says that when couples ask him to marry them, he asks them whether they’re of the same race, and makes his decision from there.
Beth Humphrey, who is white, and her would-be husband Terence McKay, who is black, are considering filing a discrimination complaint with the Justice Department.
Which is their right. But haven’t we gays said that, when we get our marriage rights, we won’t be forcing anyone — religious institution or otherwise — to marry us? It’s one thing to ensure county clerks follow the law and issue marriage licenses, but does that demand extend to the people who actually officiate the ceremonies? The Louisiana ACLU thinks so: They’ve just asked the Louisiana Judiciary Committee to investigate Bardwell.