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Page last updated at 02:33 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

US judge in mixed-race row quits

Man marrying woman
Keith Bardwell said he was happy to marry couples of the same race

A white US justice of the peace who refused to sign a marriage licence for a mixed-race couple has resigned, Louisiana officials have said.

Keith Bardwell had faced calls to stand down after he refused to issue the licence because the bride was white and the bridegroom was black.

He denied racism but said mixed-race children were not readily accepted by their parents' communities.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called the resignation "long overdue".

"This was the right decision by Mr Bardwell. What he did was clearly wrong," he said in a statement.

The office of Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne said it had received a statement from Mr Bardwell saying: "I do hereby resign the office of Justice of the Peace for the Eighth Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, effective November 3, 2009."

No reason for the resignation was specified.

'Lawsuit filed'

The couple Mr Bardwell refused to issue a licence for - Beth Humphrey, 30, and Terence McKay, 32 - have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against him, US media reported.

Ms Humphrey said that when she phoned Mr Bardwell on 6 October to discuss getting the licence, his wife told her about his stance on mixed-race marriage.

She said she had not expected such comments "in this day and age".

Mr Bardwell, who has worked as a justice of the peace for 34 years, said that in his experience most interracial marriages did not last very long.

He estimated that he had refused applications to four couples in the past two-and-a-half years.



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SEE ALSO
US judge's mixed marriage refusal
16 Oct 09 |  Americas
Raising mixed race children
22 Jan 09 |  UK
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04 Nov 08 |  Today
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27 May 04 |  Africa

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