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October 17th, 2009

Interracial Couple Denied – Story Hits International Headlines

Yesterday I covered the story of interracial (and newly married) couple Beth Humphrey McKay and Terence McKay, JOP Keith Bardwell Denies Racism Claim, His Black Friends Use His Potty.  Today I learned the story has not only spread nationally (I first read about it over on Huffington Post), but internationally.  Local news station, WAFB, reports that the McKays have been getting so many calls, their phones are blocking up.  Some of those calls have come in from international news agencies such as the BBC.

As of yet, Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell has remained mum after initially addressing the issue with conflicting statements.  He maintains he is "not racist" but that he "does not believe in mixing the races that way" and that, as JOP, he has the right to decide who he metes his duties out to.

Not so, says local attorney Jill Croft:

"This is plain, straight up Constitutional law.  You cannot make those decisions on the basis of race."

To date, JOP Bardwell has not been sanctioned.  An investigation will first have to be launched, but there is no doubt that one will take place.  Governor Bobby Jindal issued a statement calling for disciplinary action against Bardwell as well as the revoking of his license.  President Barack Obama, WAFB says, was even informed of the situation aboard Air Force One yesterday.

In his initial statements, Bardwell admitted that the state attorney general had warned him he would someday get in trouble for his refusal to marry interracial couples.  He seemed unfazed, and stated he would simply resign if it ever came to be a problem.  However, it is doubtful Bardwell ever imagined his moral objection would land him in hot water with the Governor himself; much less the President of the United States.  Even the McKays are shocked that their story has reached international headlines.

"I thought it'd be local. We thought just be around this area. It went international," Terence McKay states.  Beth McKay says, regardless, they are not going to let the issue die:

"We just wanted to stand up to that justice of the peace. What he did was completely illegal and wrong. We didn't want to have to take that."

Mrs. McKay is right.  She and her husband have become overnight champions of the rights of interracial couples and a symbol of standing up to racism.  Hopefully their fight will help other couples who are faced with the same ignorant prejudices and bigotry.

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