Keith Bardwell, Louisiana Justice of the Peace, Refuses to Marry Interracial Couple

Keith Bardwell claims he isn't racist, but that didn't stop him from refusing to marry an interracial Louisiana couple because he didn't think the relationship would last. According to the Associated Press, the justice of the peace said his concerns lay mostly with any children the couple might have, because he believed they wouldn't be accepted by society.

A map of Louisiana, with Barwell's Tangipahoa Parish highlighted (via
Bardwell said, "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way. I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

He continued, "There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

Throughout his career, Bardwell says he's refused to marry four couples, all in the past two-and-a-half years. The couple who tried to marry, Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay, have said they'll consult the US Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint. Humphrey said, "That was one thing that made this so unbelievable. It's not something you expect in this day and age."

Bardwell defended himself against any discrimination claims. He said, "I've been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don't think I've mistreated anybody. I've made some mistakes, but you have too. I didn't tell this couple they couldn't get married. I just told them I wouldn't do it."