I found an interesting piece today thanks to Vermont Freedom to Marry. It had struck me how similar all of the arguments were against same-sex marriage to those made against interracial marriage in Loving v Virginia.
For those of you not familiar with the case, ultimately ruled on by the Supreme Court, Richard and Mildred Loving were an interracial couple married in D.C. and then arrested in Virginia in 1958 for being married and violating the "Racial Integrity Act." They were each sentenced to one year in prison, suspended if they moved out of the state. They did, but fought to get their criminal records cleared. There is a short piece in the UK's Daily Mail Online today showing some photos taken of the couple.
At any rate, 45 years ago, in my lifetime, interracial marriage was illegal in 16 states. But the Supreme Court overturned those laws in 1967 (some states, including South Carolina, kept them on the books until into the late 80s, early 90s...I actually got to vote to remove the ban from the SC constitution...shocking that it was still there, more shocking that nearly 30% voted AGAINST removing it).
Even when I got to vote on expunging this shame from my state's constitution, some of these same arguments were being trotted out. Which is why I find the arguments below so interesting...is there anyone out there who still thinks interracial marriage is going to bring about the apocolypse (don't answer that), or is this just second verse, same as the first?
Same-sex marriage runs counter to God's plan:“If God had intended for same-sex couples to marry, he would have made Adam and Steve, not Adam and
Eve.” (Source: Vermont House and Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearings, 1/25/00, 2/1/00)
Interracial marriage runs counter to God's plan:
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”(Source: Virginia trial judge upholding conviction of Mildred and Richard Loving for interracial marriage, quoted in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 3(1967))
If we allow “gay marriage,” then the next thing you know we'll have brothers and sisters wanting to marry each other, or demands for legalization of polygamous marriages. (Source: Vermont House and Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearings, 1/25/00, 2/1/00)
“[If interracial couples have a right to marry], all our marriage acts forbidding intermarriage between persons within certain degrees of consanguinity are void.” (Source: Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d at 40 (Shenk, J., dissenting, quoting from a prior court case))
“The underlying factors that constitute justification for laws against miscegenation closely parallel those which sustain the validity of prohibitions against incest and incestuous marriages.”(Source: Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d at 46 (Shenk, J., dissenting, quoting from a prior court case))
“[T]he State's prohibition of interracial marriage . . . stands on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage, or the prescription of minimum ages at which people may marry, and the prevention of the marriage of people who are mentally incompetent.” (Source: Excerpted United States Supreme Court oral argument transcripts from Loving v. Virginia, from Peter Irons and Stephanie Guitton, eds., May it Please the Court (1993) at 282-283, quoting Virginia Assistant Attorney General R. D. McIlwaine, arguing for Virginia's ban on interracial marriage)
Gay people are free to marry just like anyone else, as long as they marry a member of the opposite sex. (Source: Vermont House and Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearings, 1/25/00, 2/1/00)
“Each [party seeking to marry a member of a different race] has the right and the privilege of marrying within his or her own group.” (Source: Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d at 46 (Shenk, J., dissenting, quoting from a prior court case))
Same-sex marriage would precipitate the breakdown of society.(Source: Vermont House and Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearings, 1/25/00, 2/1/00)
“Civilized society has the power of self-preservation, and, marriage being the foundation of such society, most of the states in which the Negro forms an element of any note have enacted laws inhibiting intermarriage between the white and black races.” (Source: Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d at 40 (Shenk, J., dissenting, quoting from a prior court case))
Allowing same-sex couples to marry would degrade “traditional” heterosexual marriages. (Source: Vermont House and Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearings, 1/25/00, 2/1/00)
Allowing interracial marriages “necessarily involves the degradation” of conventional marriage, an institution that “deserves admiration rather than execration.” (Source: A U.S. representative from Georgia quoted in Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1996)
Same-sex marriages have adverse effects on the parties' children, and those children are apt to suffer stigma.(Source: Vermont House and Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearings, 1/25/00, 2/1/00)
“It is contended that interracial marriage has adverse effects not only upon the parties thereto but upon their progeny . . . and that the progeny of a marriage between a Negro and a Caucasian suffer not only the stigma of such inferiority but the fear of rejection by members of both races.”(Source: Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d at 26 and n.5 (summarizing the State's argument in favor of ban).
And this is just a sample. You can read the rest of the arguments here.
And one final thing to keep in mind, one argument they didn't mention. Those against marriage equality say the majority of the country opposes marriage equality (not true anymore, actually, the lastest polls show a slight majority favor marriage equality). In 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled that marriage was a civil right, that denying it denied due process, and that the distaste of the majority was not reason enough for the state to prohibit a marriage, more than 75 PERCENT of the country opposed interracial marriage.
And the Supreme Court did the right thing anyway.
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