The White Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry an interracial couple should have resigned long before now, an obviously embarrassed governor and U.S. Senator said Wednesday.
Keith Bardwell, who drew national fire after saying he would not marry Beth Humphrey, who is White, and Terence McKay, an African American, because their future children would likely suffer, tendered his resignation to Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne in a one-sentence statement. "I do hereby resign the office of Justice of the Peace for the Eighth Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, effective November 3, 2009."
"We're saddened that it took national attention to this issue, which was decided back in 1967 by the Supreme Court, and also that it took public admonishment from other elected leaders in order for him to resign," said Laura Catlett, a lawyer for Humphrey and McKay.
"What he did was clearly wrong and this resignation was long overdue," Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement.
Said Landrieu, a Democrat, "By resigning ... and ending his embarrassing tenure in office, Justice Bardwell has finally consented to the will of the vast majority of Louisiana citizens and nearly every governmental official in Louisiana ... We are better off without him in public service."
The couple, who married in a neighboring parish, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Bardwell. Catlett said the resignation won't stop the lawsuit, which also names Bardwell's wife as a defendant.
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