Stand up against racism
Published Oct 21, 2009 3:43 PM
The racism of Keith Bardwell, Louisiana justice of the peace in Tangipahoa
Parish, sent shock waves and cries of condemnation throughout the United States
and around the world. On Oct. 6 Bardwell refused to issue a marriage license to
Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay because she is white and he is Black.
It’s Bardwell’s policy not to marry interracial couples
because he alleges the children born of such unions will “suffer.”
Bardwell is no doubt outraged that President Barack Obama had an African father
and a white mother.
This elected judicial official still abides by Civil War-era
“miscegenation” laws like the ones implemented in Nazi Germany and
apartheid South Africa. Apparently, he disagrees with the historic U.S.
Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia that struck down that
state’s laws banning interracial unions. The court found
unconstitutional all race-based restrictions against marriage throughout the
The high court’s 1967 landmark ruling did not occur in a vacuum. It
happened at the height of the civil rights and Black Liberation struggles that
involved millions throughout the U.S. Other struggles for national
liberation, both internationally and inside the U.S., were also taking place,
with Indigenous and Latino/a peoples demanding an end to centuries of racism,
oppression and inequality.
Humphrey and McKay plan to file a complaint with the U.S. Justice
Department concerning Bardwell. The American Civil Liberties Union of
Louisiana sent a letter to the Judicial Administrator of the Louisiana Supreme
Court, which oversees state justices of the peace, asking for an investigation
of Bardwell, and requesting the imposition of the severest sanctions against
him. The national headquarters of the NAACP, the New York-based Center for
Constitutional Rights, and several Louisiana politicians have also called for
Bardwell’s immediate resignation. While we join in the demand for
Bardwell’s sanctioning and removal from office, these legal efforts are
not enough. Bigots like Bardwell brazenly espouse their racist attitudes and
misdeeds because institutionalized racism is still a fact of life in the United
States, along with women’s oppression and lesbian, gay, bi and trans
oppression. There is still no federal law recognizing same-sex
In fact, on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia
ruling in 2007, Mildred Loving, who is African-American, issued a public
statement that reads in part: “I believe all Americans, no matter their
race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that
same freedom to marry.” Loving passed away in 2008. (Read Loving’s
entire statement on www.workers.org)
Bardwell should be forced to apologize publicly and pay restitution to all
those he has insulted and harmed over the years by imposing his racist
superiority. He should also be jailed for federal violations of
individuals’ civil liberties and civil rights.
White supremacist ideology is an integral tool the ruling class uses to
divide workers so they cannot effectively fight back against the capitalist
class and the many miseries it visits upon the working class and the
Lowered wages and high unemployment, record foreclosures, evictions and
homelessness, health care out of reach for tens of millions—these
realities demand a unified response from all workers of all
The outrage sparked by Bardwell’s actions shows how crucial is the
pursuit of the struggle against racism every day. As the movement grows
for jobs and economic justice and against the capitalist profit system,
fighting racism in all forms must be at the top of the agenda.
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