A number of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups, which are fighting for same-sex marriage rights in the US, have condemned an incident in which an official refused to marry an interracial couple.
Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, refused to issue a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, who is white, and Terence McKay, who is black, because they are of different races.
Speaking to the Associated Press about his decision to refuse to marry the couple, Bardwell said: “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way.”
He added: “There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”
Bardwell recommended another justice of the peace in the parish who went on to marry the couple.
“That anyone would refuse to marry a loving, committed couple on the basis of race is unconscionable. That the person doing so is an official of the state responsible for upholding justice is outrageous and unacceptable,” said the LGBT groups in the statement.
“We condemn this ugly act in the strongest possible terms and join the NAACP in denouncing this display of racism. It is wrong for loving couples who want to make a life-long marriage commitment to be denied that right because of someone else’s prejudice.”
The organisations that issued the statement include the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Lambda Legal, PPFLAG National and the Human Rights Campaign, among others.