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Mixed couple denied right to marry

A justice of the peace in Louisiana in the US has resigned after refusing to marry a mixed-race couple. Keith Bardwell came under strong criticism in the state, where race has long been a contentious issue.

The story of Beth and Terence McKay has made headlines across the world. They are settling into newlywed life, but their road to matrimony wasn't that easy.

The McKays live in Hammond, Louisiana, with the population around 20,000. The state has one of the highest proportionate populations of African Americans in the country.

And many believe that, in the place where slavery existed in the 1800s, racism still exists today.

“They just try to demean white women. When they do that they try to make them feel like they're less of a woman because they're stepping down,” Beth says.

And it is not just white people that have a problem with their decision

“The older generation says the races shouldn’t mix and it’s not right, but it’s our choice. You don't have to like it but you will respect it,” Terence is convinced.

The local judge later explained that he refused to marry the couple out of concern that biracial kids wouldn't be accepted by either race.

Many people in town admitted that the judge could have a point.

“I think biracial kids have a tough time everywhere and I think the reason for that is the white people think that, you know, they don't really fit in with the white people and they don't fit in with the black people,” one white woman in her fifties told RT.

“Well around here, when I was younger it was a big problem,” a middle-aged white man said.

A young black man in his twenties admitted racism does exist:

“Definitely there’s no ifs ands or buts about it – definitely it does. The older generation: they're afraid of change. That’s fine to a certain degree, but let everybody else have their change.”

The McKays realize the challenges they will face raising a biracial child in Louisiana.

“I think that for any child who is not white in America there is always going to be problems that they face as long as people keep teaching their children to be racist,”
Beth says. “Because children are not racist – they are taught that.”

But this couple is not afraid of the challenge, and say that people’s ignorance will not make them feel humiliated.