Friday, October 16, 2009

Bardwell, I'm Calling Your Bluff

As I am sure many of you have heard by now, an interracial couple in Louisiana was denied a marriage license. Apparently, for justice of the peace Keith Bardwell, the ruling in Loving v. Virginia means nothing.

Outside of how disturbing it is to think this level of racism still exists today, what is even more upsetting is the ‘reasoning’ behind this decision.

Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says that he is not racist and in facts performs many ceremonies for black couples. However, he claims to have denied Beth Humphrey and Terrence McCay the right to marry for “the children’s sake.”

"I don't do interracial marriages because I don't want to put children in a situation they didn't bring on themselves…In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer." Bardwell asserts that offspring of interracial relationships are neither accepted by the black community nor the white community and thus are faced with an identity crisis and lack of belonging (the situation Bardwell, apparently, is working to avoid.)

First of all, what child doesn’t experience some sort of identity crisis along the way? Whether it is about your racial identity, your sexual identity, political identity, or anything else, most people experience some sort of identity crisis during their lifetime; it’s how we shape and discover who we are.

Secondly, you may have "piles" of black friends, but that doesn't mean you're not racist. Bardwell's actions in the case are clearly racially motivated; he is denying this couple the right to marry because of their race. It's a little concerning that Bardwell doesn't see how racist this actually is.

Finally, and most importantly, here is my question to Mr. Bardwell: Do you do background checks on all of the couples you marry? If his goal is to prevent children from growing up in difficult situations, then perhaps he should consider this option in order to be most effective.

There are far worse situations children can be in other than growing up with interracial parents and with a ‘mixed’ racial identity. What about growing up in an abusive household? Does Bardwell screen for that? Does he ask about family history with alcoholism or drug abuse? And how about finances, does he double check to make sure the couple will be able to afford a family?

The reason there is not background check is because it's not the state's business! People will marry who they want to marry, whether Keith Bardwell feels their relationship is appropriate or not. I don't know where he found the audacity to think he had more power than the Supreme Court to deny this couple a marriage license, or why he thought that his opinion actually mattered when it came to the raising of their children—potential children, if and when they choose to have them (which I’m sure he would have something to say about if he could)—but he got it wrong; it's comforting knowing that people like Bardwell can't get away with actions like these. Bardwell may choose to live forty years in the past, but the majority of this nation does not.

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