Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | October 16, 2009

Uh, meet the president

The Hammond (LA) Daily Star reports that Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, refuses to marry interracial couples. Here are a few of Bardwell’s comments from the Daily Star’s story:

  • “I’m not a racist. I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children.”
  • “99 percent of the time” the interracial couple consists of a black man and white woman. “I find that rather confusing.”
  • Bardwell also claims that black society and white society reject the offspring of these unions.
  • Bardwell claims that because he doesn’t marry any interracial couples, he’s not a racist.

This story has prompted shock and outrage. Most people can’t believe that these kinds of attitudes persist today, 42 years after Loving v. Virginia, which outlawed anti-miscegnation laws in the United States.

My responses:

  • How could Mr. Bardwel havel failed to notice who’s in the White House? He’s the child of an interracial couple, a white woman and a black man, that relationship that so confuses him. Our president seems to be doing OK, like most children of interracial marriages. Some white kids are neglected or worse, why doesn’t Mr. Bardwell refuse to marry white couples? Some black kids are neglected or worse, why doesn’t he refuse to marry black couples?
  • Bardwell’s advocating — and practicing — a form of segregationism, which is a form of racism. Remember Bob Jones University? The South Carolina-based fundamentalist Christian college lost its federal tax exempt status in 1970 because of its policies prohibiting interracial dating among its students. BJU finally apologized for its institutional racism last year.
  • Note society’s reaction to this man who is so woefully behind the times. This is how our grandchildren and generations beyond will view those who so loudly, hatefully, and ignorantly oppose marriage equality for homosexuals. They’ll be ashamed and confused by the bigotry against same-sex couples, by how long it took to end it, by the toll the discrimination took on untold lives, by the ignorant vitriol spewed by those who fought to preserve discrimination.

Many of the same tired — and false and irrelevant — arguments that were used against same-sex marriage (the Bible prohibits it, it’s against tradition, it’s not good for the kids, it’ll bring about the end of society) were used by opponents to interracial marriage. They were terrible arguments then, they’re terrible arguments now.

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