Both the ACLU and NAACP have commented on the tragedy and legalities of this case and Humphrey is reportedly planning to pursue the case against Bardwell who is scheduled to serve until the end of 2014. The ACLU has sent a letter to the state's Judiciary committee to call for action against Bardwell and to have have him removed. The following is a quote from that letter as reported by the Hammond Daily Star:
“Justice of the Peace Bardwell must follow the law, not his own ugly and fanciful theories on interracial marriage. A justice of the peace simply cannot prevent a person from a lawful marriage because of bigotry and prejudice.”
In trying to justify this act in an interview with a local newspaper Bardwell used cliché and offensive comments such as the typical “I have piles and piles of black friends” and further makes the extremely racist and demeaning comment that he even allows them to use his bathroom. Bardwell continues on to say that children are the innocent victims in all of this and would never be accepted, therefore he is doing them a favor by protecting future children from the mistakes of their parents; as if somehow being involved in an interracial relationship is an offense of which one is “guilty” of.
It would seem that this genius of American culture has some how remained unaware of the fact that the highest office in the land is held by a man who happens to be biracial. I guess winning an overwhelming number of votes of the American people in a presidential election does not count as being accepted in Bardwell's little warped universe.
As Bardwell continued in an interview with the Hammond Daily Star newspaper, he also made several other outrageous comments including that he found relationships between white women and black men to be “confusing” and accused such couples of being unable to raise their children by saying that the children tend to end up with other relatives or grandparents. (Interestingly enough, the newspaper chose to lead the story's headline with only “JP refuses to marry couple” with no mention of the racial bias in the headline.)
But one thing from this story that should stand out, the problem is not just that this is one man acting this way, if you noticed in the story it is mentioned that the state attorney general warned Bardwell that he may end up being forced to perform such marriages, in which Bardwell responded that he would quit first because he “had rights” and that he was “not obligated to do that just because I’m a justice of the peace.”
Apparently someone forgot to inform Keith Bardwell that as an elected official he is indeed obligated to uphold the law, and refusing a marriage license or any service to someone based on race is a illegal not to mention unethical and immoral. But this statement shows that the state's attorney general was well aware of Bardwell's stance and his illegal behavior and did nothing about it.
Bardwell served in his role for over 30 years, 30 years when other officials and officers of the court were aware of his actions and did nothing to remove him. They to, need to be held responsible for this clear violation of civil rights and a violation of the very laws that they were sworn to uphold.
Given the racially charged environment in the political arena today, issues such as this only go to further show the cultural divide between the right and the left, and the south and the north. A divide that must be healed if the country is to survive.