By Farooq A. Kperogi
I wrote a two-part series about a racist Louisiana Justice of Peace by the name of Keith Bardwell who refused to officiate the wedding of a black and white couple because of his personal revulsion toward interracial marriages. Well, in the wake of intense pressures, the man whose tenure would have expired in 2014 has thrown in the towel.
According to the Associated Press, Keith Bardwell, in a one-sentence statement to Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, said: "I do hereby resign the office of Justice of the Peace for the Eighth Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, effective November 3, 2009."
Several public officials, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (whose parents are Indians from Asia) and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu representing Louisiana, had called for his resignation.
“What he did was clearly wrong and this resignation was long overdue," Gov. Jindal said in a statement.
Senator Landrieu, for her part, said Bardwell's refusal to marry the couple has exposed Louisiana to international ridicule. "By resigning ... and ending his embarrassing tenure in office, Justice Bardwell has finally consented to the will of the vast majority of Louisiana citizens and nearly every governmental official in Louisiana ... We are better off without him in public service," she said.
But Bardwell’s troubles are not over. Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay, the couple whose request he turned down, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against him.
A nice end to a sad story.