Does a government official have an obligation to perform his duties even in situations where he has a personal objection to performing them? A Justice of the Peace in Louisiana, asked to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, apparently doesn’t think so. He denied their request:
A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.
Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
“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.”
Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.
Faced with the many couples he’s worked with over the 34 years of his career, he routinely issues marriage licenses without a second glance unless the 2 people in the couple are of different races. That’s the only difference between the couples he marries and those he does not and that’s not racist? Their race is the sole criteria in this decision. Sounds like the very definition of racist to me.
The first question that needs to be answered is whether a JoP in Louisiana is an elected or appointed position or is it something like being a notary public – anyone who meets the requirements can become one. If it’s the former, then a JoP is most definitely a government official and my lead question applies. My contention: unless there’s a violation of the law involved then a government official needs to perform the tasks of their office and their personal issues with the matter be damned. If he can’t see his way to performing those duties, then resign and find a new line of work.
If it’s the latter, the line becomes fuzzier. Like a pharmacist who chooses not to dispense the “abortion pill” it’s a matter of the person simply refusing to contribute to a violation of their ethics or morals. However, there’s a critical difference in this circumstance. A pharmacist who refuses to dispense a given medicine takes that stand regardless of who’s asking. Would we consider a pharmacist doing so to be operating within his ethical and moral constraints if he only refused to dispense the given medicine to members of a certain race or gender?
This pinhead JoP contends his refusal is based on his assessment that interracial marriages “don’t last” or out of some concern for the children of such marriages. Considering the divorce rate in the United States and the fact that the vast majority of divorces are clearly couples of the same race, how does his ethics permit him to issue any marriage licenses at all? Where’s his data that interracial marriages are more prone to divorce than heteroracial one are? He says “he’s discussed it” with people. Well, whoop-de-wah. Are any of those people in a position of authority on the matter or is it just the local racist he polled?
If his position was elected or appointed then he should be removed from office. He obviously doesn’t belong there. If it’s a position he got by applying then he can’t be removed, granted, but people don’t have to patronize his business, either. Young couples of Tangipahoa Parish, go somewhere else. Have a church wedding and enjoy. Leave this clueless jerk to fade away and be forgotten.