Meet Keith Bardwell, an elected justice of the peace from the state of Louisiana:
“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.”
“There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage,” Bardwell said. “I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”
If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all…
“I try to treat everyone equally…”
I’m in an interracial relationship. I love my partner with all of my heart and soul. To me, she exudes an uncommon grace, civility, intelligence and preternatural inclination to love her fellow man and woman. To me, she is the essence of love. My relationship is not to be bound in some rough-hewn package, and determined on a whim by some white judge, or some black activist. It is the manifestation of a love borne from God’s grace. A treasure only shared by those lucky enough possess it. She is my link to planes of joy unparalleled. To forsake that, or her, is to endure a pain I could not bear. And yet I can’t help but think of Keith Bardwell, and what he has accomplished in his career. To think some crotchety bigoted relic from Jim Crow days, would have any say in whom I choose to make my partner for life, is beyond the pale of presumptive arrogance.
The term miscegenation, was a word invented by American journalists to discredit the Abolitionist movement, by stirring up debate over the prospect of white-black intermarriage after the abolition of slavery. It was first coined in 1863 during the American Civil War. It wasn’t until 1967, over one hundred years later, that anti-miscegenation laws were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Those discriminatory laws were nullified in fifteen states, and it’s a word that is rarely uttered today. But negative sentiments that supported those laws still remain strong in some quarters today.
I’m probably more troubled than most about this Louisiana marriage case. How enlightened have we truly become, if some Americans are not wholly accepted as couples no matter their skin color? Is it better for couples of the same skin color to wed? Is the church full of more approving eyes, because they are comfortable knowing that this marriage will last a lifetime since the participants are of one race? By what right do any of you determine the strength of my union with my beloved, based solely upon our skin differences? What validates that relationship more than mine? By whose right is my relationship a sin, punishable by never knowing the joys of consummating our love? Whom or what gives anyone the right to legislate love?
As an American, I recognize the beauty of our First Amendment right to free speech. Its application can sometimes carry the shock of a punch to the kidneys for those that don’t agree with what is said. This is different. This is a man making his own blanketed moral supposition, not interpreting the law. This is a man depriving me of my most intimate basic right as a citizen and a human being. There is no racial identity litmus test provided to couples hoping to join together as one. There should be none asked for either. I am a believer in the real tenets of our democracy. I have faith that the system is designed to foster happiness for its people, not divisiveness. I believe that love and marriage between mature, consenting adults– are sacrosanct tenets of life, made possible by our creator. Those tenets must be respected and allowed to flourish, in order for our society to remain strong around the family structure. Keith Bardwell was entrusted to safeguard these principles. He failed because of his own misguided prejudices. I feel for him, and his lonely insular world. His bigotry his festered for so long, it’s caused him to lose sight of the true nature of marriage.
“I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom.”
If only you showed as much deference for the man and woman you refused to marry, as you do with your prized sanitation facilities…
Or perhaps my woman and I , along with millions of others, have not yet reached the level of toilet status in your eyes.