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Tilting at Windmills

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October 16, 2009

THE MAN HAS 'PILES AND PILES OF BLACK FRIENDS'.... It's the 21st century, but apparently no one's told Keith Bardwell.

A white Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "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."

Is that so. Bardwell lets black people use his bathroom and he has "piles" of black friends?

Well, in that case, I suppose there's nothing objectionable here at all.

Apparently, couples that want to get married will call Bardwell to make arrangements. He'll ask if they're a mixed-race couple, and then refuse to help them if they answer the "wrong" way. As Bardwell sees it, society won't accept their kids: "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

What a good point. The societal stigma on kids from mixed-race couples is so overwhelming, those kids would never have an opportunity to, say, grow up and someday seek the presidency of the United States. Oh wait.

The couple that Bardwell turned down last week intends to consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint. They've already received some support from the ACLU, which has sought an investigation from the Louisiana Judiciary Committee.

Steve Benen 11:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Comments

How the f u c k has that guy been allowed to do this for 34 YEARS!?!?

Posted by: jeremy on October 16, 2009 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

You write: "The couple that Bardwell turned down last week intends to consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint."

WTF?

Loving v. Virginia.

From Wikipedia: "Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)[1], was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States."

Just what is there to "consult" about?

Posted by: CMcC on October 16, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

It struck me laugh out loud funny that Steve included a link to Obama's Wikipedia entry.

Posted by: doubtful on October 16, 2009 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Based on his logic, can we assume that he would have no problem, then, with a same-sex marriage? No kids to worry about, right?

[/snark]

Sheesh.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on October 16, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

"Apparently, couples that want to get married will call Bardwell to make arrangements. He'll ask if they're a mixed-race couple, and then refuse to help them if they answer the "wrong" way."

Does he just hang up on them? Shouldn't an alrm go off as soon as he asks the question?

Well, I'm an ordained minister, so I would be delighted to perform the ceremony. I was going to be an arch bishop, but it cost more.

"piles and piles of black friends" He even let's them use his bathroom...fancy that! Is there a racist out there who DOESN'T have oodles of black friends. Same thing with homophobes. They all have many gay friends, all of whom agree with their homophobic vomit, by the way. I would actually begrudgingly give these people some credit if they were just honest about.

Posted by: SaintZak on October 16, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Someone tell Bardwell there's at least one interracial man who has done pretty well in America: Barrack Obama.

Oh, you've also made the same point.

I wonder how much 'black' blood flows through Bardwell's veins? Anyway we're all descendants of African tribal people who lived there 50 to 100 thousand years ago. If ignorance is bliss, this is one happy guy.

Please sue or prosecute this sheriff.

Posted by: anomaly on October 16, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Where are these piles of black friends? In his basement? Near the wooden cross?

Posted by: d. b. cooper on October 16, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

What's his cut off for interracial? If say, Pres Obama was going to marry Halle Berry would he agree, or would his head explode doing the math.

And does it include all races, or just the ones in his piles?

Posted by: martin on October 16, 2009 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Someone has to protect the kids from racism and racists. Who better than a racist?

Posted by: KJ on October 16, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

"They use my bathroom."

So long as its the bathroom marked "colored."

When ah send them to jail they ride in the back of the bus, until a white prisoner needs a seat.

However, ah don't let them sit at ma kitchen counter. There's only so much race mixin' a man can tolerate.

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 16, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'll bet this guy has no problem with marrying a brother and sister, or a 13 year old to a 40 year old.

Posted by: pennylane on October 16, 2009 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

I won't preside over mixed race couples marrying because people won't accept their children!

What people won't accept their children?

Well, me for one.

Aaaaaand, scene!

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 16, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

I particularly like his reasoning that preventing marriage prevents children. Yeah, good luck with that, buddy. Sheesh.

(Incidentally, that's someone we can only hope has NOT reproduced).

Posted by: Missouri Mule on October 16, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

One can only imagine the suffering that poor old Tiger Woods has endured. And he married a white woman, so his kids will suffer the life of the mixed-race American.

Once this race-mixing starts in a family, it just never ends. Good thing Bardwell is protecting us against it.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on October 16, 2009 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Yikes!

Though I was surprised that Bardwell's a judge. I was sure he was a part of the GOP caucus.

Posted by: Bobo Teh Clown on October 16, 2009 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Every Republican interviewed anywhere (especially the "Tenthers") should be required to denounce Bardwell.

That won't happen of course . . . .

And may I assume, because of the fact that Bardwell's political affiliation isn't mentioned in any of the stories I've read, that he's a Republican?


Posted by: SteveT on October 16, 2009 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Just what is there to "consult" about?

The best way to hang him out to dry without having to spend your own money to enforce your own civil rights. Why not let the state and feds do the heavy lifting?

Posted by: freelunch on October 16, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

And may I assume, because of the fact that Bardwell's political affiliation isn't mentioned in any of the stories I've read, that he's a Republican?

Maybe, even quite likely, but if he's been at this for 34 years, he probably started as a Democrat in Louisiana.

Posted by: freelunch on October 16, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well ... this is part and parcel of the far right's current approach. They selectively nullify the laws and regulations with which they personally disagree, based on their own personal conscience or religious beliefs. It is part and parcel of a broad continuum of things ranging from pharmacists refusing to dispense birth control to the former Bush administration approach to environmental regulation, to the new "Tenther" movement by conservatives to refuse to implement federal programs under the Constitution's Tenth Amendment.

Posted by: Bokonon on October 16, 2009 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

My dearly departed grandmother once said, "I don't care if it was Ernie Banks, I wouldn't ever live next door to him." She also said of the two black nurses in her eye doctor's office, "They're so nice you'd think they're white."

It's alarming that people like this fool in LA are still around. I think this does tie in with the tea baggers and birthers and looney fringe eating up the Republican Party. They're dying. They're dinosaurs. They're on the out-dated side of every issue. Ironically, they're a casualty of evolution (I bet that really pisses them off).

I imagine Tyrannosaurus Rex raged against the feathers and the asteroid. These people aren't going to go down easily or quietly, but they are in their death rattle. Unfortunatley, we have to endure it. But they are relics of the past, and as a movement they have no forward momentun. They're spinning their wheels.

Posted by: SaintZak on October 16, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK
Well, I'm an ordained minister, so I would be delighted to perform the ceremony. I was going to be an arch bishop, but it cost more.

It's not that he merely refuses to perform the wedding, he refuses to issue the marriage license. Which is what will really get him in trouble, I bet.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 16, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

These people aren't going to go down easily or quietly, but they are in their death rattle. Unfortunatley, we have to endure it. But they are relics of the past, and as a movement they have no forward momentun. They're spinning their wheels.

So we use them to discredit the "mainstream" Republicans and their agenda. Make them anchors that drag the Republican party down into the depths of the tar pit with the rest of the dinosaurs.


Posted by: SteveT on October 16, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Can we make a rule that if you use a sentence "I'm not a racist", you are, indeed, a racist? Also: what the hell is wrong with the South?

Posted by: VMR on October 16, 2009 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

"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."

I'm still pondering this quote. I'm wondering WTF is going through this guy's mind. I wonder if he's thinking a real racists wouldn't let African Americans use their bathroom.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on October 16, 2009 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bardwell meant to say "I won't let you get married because I am an insulting, excuse making asshole of the first order."

Not to mention ignorant and a control freak. lol

The arrogance is also quite astounding. He obviously thinks he is THE boss man white dude that gets to make decisions for everyone else because he was born!

Posted by: Silver Owl on October 16, 2009 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, the arrogance is particular astounding because it's a slam-dunk loser for him. No court in the country will sustain this.

Posted by: PaulB on October 16, 2009 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting that Bardwell has changed his longtime party affiliation from Democrat to Republican over the past election cycle...I'm trying to find another reason why, other than Obama being at the head of the Dem ticket...

Posted by: grape_crush on October 16, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Where are these piles of black people? Makes me think of piles of corpses at the Nazi death camps.

Posted by: Danny on October 16, 2009 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

A dinosaur left over from the time (not so long ago) when old white men ruled the earth, dispensing their own paternalistic wisdom to the rest of us like little balls of shit.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on October 16, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

"I have piles and piles of black friends."

Does he stack them like cordwood?

Posted by: g on October 16, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Last time I had friends in a pile was back in the Seventies. Of course, attitudes were different in those days.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on October 16, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Quite simply the Good State of Louisiana must divest him of any authority to issue marriage licenses and revoke his status as a justice of the peace.
It is against the law to discriminate, end of discussion. If you cannot perform your function as the holder of a state office in good conscience, you must be removed. Nobody is saying that he must conform his personal or religious beliefs to anyone else's, but he cannot be allowed to impose them on other people in an official capacity.

Seems like a cut and dry case to me. Nobody's stepping up to defend this guy, not even the teabaggers.

Posted by: ajaye on October 16, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

He has piles and piles of black friends and even lets them use his bathroom! Boy, it doesn't get more broadminded than that. Then again, it's probably the "colored" bathroom or the outhouse out back.

Posted by: pennylane on October 16, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the RNC should list Bardwell on their website as a GOP "hero." That would be par for the course.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 16, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just curious as to how many good church-going people who are appalled by this justice of the peace's naked bigotry were big supporters of Prop 8 and horrified at the idea of same-sex marriage.

It's often a question of whose ox is gored.

Posted by: DocAmazing on October 16, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the RNC should list Bardwell on their website as a GOP "hero." That would be par for the course.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 16, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Bardwell, my mixed-race president trumps your pile of blacks. And I'm thinking it is way past time he sat down with you over a beer and discussed the legal progress this country has made since you were born.

Posted by: Chopin on October 16, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Their minds work like this:

Racism = bad (it took decades to get this message through and that was as far as it went -- no change of behavior accompanied this revelation)

I am not a bad person.

Therefore, I am not a racist.

Posted by: shortstop on October 16, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

The racism angle here is perhaps not completely irrelevant, but the most fundamental concern is the presumptuous paternalistic attitude of the judge toward the citizens he is supposed to serve. Even if we take the judge's explanation at face value and dismiss the charge of racism against him, it remains completely outrageous that he, as a representative of the government, would presume the power to decide who gets to procreate. This is completely unacceptable not only from the ACLU's point of view, but also from the point of view of any self-respecting conservative.

Posted by: Jason on October 16, 2009 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just curious as to how many good church-going people who are appalled by this justice of the peace's naked bigotry were big supporters of Prop 8 and horrified at the idea of same-sex marriage.

It's often a question of whose ox is gored.

Damn skippy, Doc, which leads me to another question: did this guy refuse to issue a marriage license, or did he merely refuse to solemnize a marriage for which the couple already had a license? I've heard conflicting stories. If, as a state official, he refused to issue a license for a perfectly legal activity to people who met the legal criteria, he gets to lose his job. If, however, he's just a hater who didn't want to perform the ceremony, then he can tout his First Amendment right and his "moral objection" and refuse to marry anyone he doesn't like with impunity. It happens every day to gay couples in states where we can legally wed.

The decent human being in me is horrified. The bitter lesbian in me, however, shrugged and said, "Now you know it feels for my side. Don't cry to to me; YOU, at least, have the option of going to any other parish or state for your marriage ceremony."

Posted by: Keori on October 16, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

... but also from the point of view of any self-respecting conservative.

Being a conservative means being dead-set against and willing to fight to the death to keep the government out of people's lives.

Except for the hundreds of ways in which that's exactly what they want.

Posted by: DH Walker on October 16, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

This is racism at its most insidious. It's the kind of thing I used to hear in KY all the time, and similar to the argument many parents have about their kids being gay. Life, as they see it, will just be *harder* for kids who are of mixed race or gay.

The problem with an argument like this is *why* would life be harder? Because there are racists and homophobes everywhere? That's hardly a reason not to mix races or be gay. It's actually a reason TO mix races or be gay. Fuck the bigots and those who would protect their way of thinking. This case should be taken as far as it can possibly go, and that justice of the peace should be barred from practicing his love of racial purity.

P.S. Just because you have "piles and piles" of black friends (a very questionable claim, to be sure) does not mean those black friends aren't just as racist as you are. Bardwell should consider that the next time he makes his wife clean the bathroom right after one of his "friends" uses it.

Posted by: Limbaugh's Diabetes on October 16, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

In LA marriage licenses are issued by the county clerk, like almost every other state. Marriages can be performed by any cleric (who is registered with the county), Judge or JP. Justices of the peace are elected officials who have to be English speaking HS graduates, not lawyers.

So he did not deny a license which would certainly be illegal, but he did refuse to marry the couple which is probably legal. On the other hand he does have to stand for election again. He might have an interesting campaign.

Posted by: mikeyes on October 16, 2009 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

I see Mary Landrieu has come out against him.
Any comments from Bobby Jindal on this yet? Or is he just hoping it all goes away?

Posted by: MikeN on October 16, 2009 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Limbaugh's Diabetes on October 16, 2009 at 2:51 PM
...Because there are racists and homophobes everywhere? That's hardly a reason not to mix races or be gay. It's actually a reason TO mix races or be gay.

I'm sold. Tomorrow I switch teams.
Now... how to break it to the missus....

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 16, 2009 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Tangipahoa Parish has another claim to fame: It was the filming location for In the Heat of the Night, the TV show about race and the law.

See:

http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/not-in-tangipahoa-parish/

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