So Louisiana Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell has gained national notoriety for refusing to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, referring them instead to another justice to have the marriage performed. His action has, of course, provoked a great deal of condemnation. Pretty much every elected Louisiana official above Mr. Bardwell (and plenty of them to either side) in the administrative hierarchy has called for his removal from his position. That goes all the way up to Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, who said:
“This is a clear violation of constitutional rights and federal and state law. Mr. Bardwell’s actions should be fully reviewed by the Judiciary Commission and disciplinary action should be taken immediately – including the revoking of his license.”
As for Mr. Bardwell himself, he has claimed not to be racist, but instead concerned for the biracial children that result from mixed-race marriage. Of all that he’s said, though, I was particularly interested by the following:
“I didn’t tell this couple they couldn’t get married. I just told them I wouldn’t do it.”
It interested me because it’s exactly the kind of reasoning that underlies “conscience protection” laws that exempt medical professionals who wish to refuse participation in abortion, or dispensation of contraception.
So now I’m very curious to know whether what pro-life groups have to say about what this man has done and how he’s done it. Or, for that matter, what Governor Jindal himself now thinks of the bill he recently signed into law.