In eastern Louisiana Terence McKay claims a justice of the peace of Tangipahoa Parish that refused to give him and his white girlfriend a marriage license.
"He's an elected public official and one of his duties is to marry people. He doesn't have the right to say he doesn't believe in it," Patricia Morris, president of the NAACP branch of Tangipahoa Parish, located near the Mississippi line, said Thursday.
"If he doesn't do what his position calls for him to do, he should resign from that position."
The demands for Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward, to step down came after he wouldn't issue a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, 30, and her boyfriend, Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond, CNN reports.
In the meantime, Bardwell, who is white, insists he is not a racist and that his decision last week was governed by his concern that mixed-race children were shunned by both white and black communities. He told the Hammond Star: "I don't do interracial marriages because I don't want to put children in a situation they didn't bring on themselves. I feel the children will later suffer."
He told the Associated Press: "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way. I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them like everyone else," guardian.co.uk reports.
It was also reported, the NAACP and other civil-rights advocates in the state aren’t so sure that racism wasn’t behind his decision. "He's an elected public official and one of his duties is to marry people. He doesn't have the right to say he doesn't believe in it," Patricia Morris, president of the NAACP branch of Tangipahoa Parish, said Thursday. "If he doesn't do what his position calls for him to do, he should resign from that position."
Humphrey said she was “really shocked, because he's an elected official." It’s clearly a case of racial discrimination, she told CNN. She said that when she contacted Bardwell’s office on Oct. 6 to request the license, she was told by his wife that he does not sign off on interracial marriages. They received their marriage license three days later from another justice of peace in the same parish, which is about 70 percent White and 30 percent Black, CNN reports.
"We would like him to resign," she said. "He doesn't believe he's being racist, but it is racist," BET reports.
Meanwhile, Bardwell's actions are particularly sensitive in Louisiana, one of 17 mainly southern states that only repealed laws banning mixed-race marriages and relationships when forced to do so by the US Supreme Court in the 1967 case of Loving vs Virginia. Until then "miscegenation", as it was legally called, was outlawed in many states and was one of the most invasive elements of southern segregation, CNN reports.