"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." ...
"I've been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don't think I've mistreated anybody," Bardwell said. "I've made some mistakes, but you have to. I didn't tell this couple they couldn't get married. I just told them I wouldn't do it."
Source: Huffington Post
Right, the true test of racism is whether or not you let racial minorities use your bathroom. So if I let a black person use my toilet to urinate, I couldn't possibly be racist -- regardless of whether I want to ban interracial marriage, bar blacks from voting, force them to use different drinking fountains, etc. How can this make sense to anyone?
As I alluded to above, though, this is the same area in Louisiana where people think it's reasonable read prayers over a school's public address system and put evolution disclaimers in biology texts. It's not a coincidence that the same areas of the country which gave up bans on interracial marriage last are the areas where we see the worst conflicts over school prayer and evolution.
It's not about race, but by power and control. White evangelical Christians took a long time to accept racial minorities as equals because this required giving up a privileged social, political, and cultural status. It required accepting that they would have less power and control over society relative to non-whites. White evangelical Christians today want to introduce prayer and creationism into public schools because they see this as a means for reasserting power and control in society relative to other religions. When public schools stopped promoting Christianity, this was a loss of special privileges which Christians have long enjoyed.
There's a lot of overlap with people who are afraid of the loss of white privileges, people who are afraid of the loss of Christian privileges, and people who are afraid of the loss of heterosexual privileges -- as well as the loss of male privileges.
Bardwell said a justice of the peace is not required to conduct a marriage ceremony and is at liberty to recuse himself "from a marriage or anything else."
He said the state attorney general told him years ago that he would eventually get into trouble for not performing interracial marriages.
"I told him if I do, I'll resign," Bardwell said. "I have rights too. I'm not obligated to do that just because I'm a justice of the peace."
Source: Hammond Daily Star
So Keith Bardwell has known for years that doing this was illegal and it was just a matter of time before someone complained. Given this admission, it doesn't look like he will be able to make much of a case defending himself. I think we can see, though, where he may want to go with this: he has a right to refuse to issue marriage licenses to anyone which it's a matter of "conscience."
We can expect conservative Christians in government to offer a similar argument when it comes to dealing with gay marriage as that becomes legal in more areas -- but how many of them would accept such an argument when it comes to interracial marriage? Not many, which makes this case a gift to liberals who support equality for gays because it will place conservative Christians in a difficult place: trying to justify "conscience" exemptions to the process of gay marriage without also justifying similar exemptions to the process of interracial marriage.
And what about analogous situations outside of government? This could be defended in a manner very much like how people have defended pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptive pills and morning-after pills to the "wrong" sorts of women. The standards for government officials are obviously different from people in the private sector, but aside from that just how different would the arguments ultimately be? If it's legitimate for pharmacists to be exempt from normal professional standards when their conscience tells them to not give contraceptives to an unmarried woman, why can't a justice of the peace be exempt from the normal professional standards when his conscience tells him to not issue a marriage license to interracial couples?