Friday, October 16, 2009

Interracial Marriage in the Twenty-First Century

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Way down yonder in Louisiana, in the 8th Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, to be exact, resides a justice of the peace who would have to evolve significantly to be considered a Neanderthal.

That justice of the peace is Keith Bardwell, a self-righteous character who refused to issue a marriage certificate to an interracial couple - not fifty years ago, but right now in the year 2009! His statement justifying his racist stupidity was this: "I'm not a racist. I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children." (Give the cracker a point: he didn't use the N word - at least not in front of the press!)

So good old boy Keith isn't racist - he's only concerned about the children that might result from a black-white union. The children!

Hey, Rip, have you been dozing for a few years? The President of the United States was one of those children. The President, Rip! God knows what will have changed after your next nap!

The United States has a long and ugly history with anti-miscegenation laws - especially with regard to black and white marriages. It wasn't unusual in the wild and woolly west, where there was a shortage of available white women, for white men to take Indian wives, and, indeed, many Americans (myself included) are descendants of such unions. And while those marriages went generally unchallenged, not so with whites who wanted to marry blacks. Some of the onus on that type of marriage is undoubtedly rooted in a Christian theology that spent two centuries preaching various versions of "blacks are not really human" as a justification for slavery. (Enslaving humans, after all, would not be moral! And if blacks were actually some form of ape, letting them marry whites would be bestiality.)

Various states began legalizing black-white marriages in the nineteenth century, but as of the late 1950's the Old South was still solidly against the concept. In June of 1958 a Virginia couple - Mildred Delores Jeter (a black woman) and Richard Perry Loving (a white man) went to Washington, DC, where they were legally married. When they returned to Virginia they were promptly arrested. The state of Virginia sentenced each of them to twenty-five years in prison, and suspended the sentence on the condition that they leave the state.

The case of Loving vs Virginia eventually made it's way to the U.S. Supreme Court where the Virginia decision was unanimously overturned and anti-miscegenation laws were effectively outlawed throughout the entire United States - even in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana.

That bold decision came from the liberal Warren Court. (Yes, there was a time in this country when the Supreme Court was decidedly liberal.) If the same case were to be argued before the Court today, the decision would likely not be unanimous. Somehow I can't see Justices Scalia and Thomas ever signing onto something that radical.

Oh wait...Justice Clarence Thomas is married to Virginia Lamp Thomas, a lady of decidedly Caucasian descent. My bad!

I suspect that Keith Bardwell will lose his justice of the peace gig, either through public pressure or a lawsuit, but not to worry - in rural Louisiana he ought to be a shoo-in for Congress!

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