Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Loving Day!

On June 12th, 1967 the United States Supreme Court made the decision to legalize interracial marriage. The case, Mr. Loving vs. Virginia, began with Mr and Mrs Loving (he was white, she was black) being removed from their beds and arrested for the crime of interracial marriage. At the time of their arrest, interracial marriage in Virginia was a crime that carried a one year minimum prison term. During one of the trials leading up to the supreme court's decision a judge had this lovely "wisdom" to impart:

“Almighty God created the races,
white, black, yellow, Malay, and
red and 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 the races to mix.”

I can't even begin to comment on that statement. It makes my thoughts stutter.

On this day,41 years ago, the supreme court declared it unconstitutional to ban interracial marriage. In this history of this country, 35 states have had laws against interracial relationships at one point or another. It wasn't until 2000 (??!!) that Alabama removed their law banning interracial marriage (it wasn't enforceable after the supreme court's decision, but the movement to remove the law barely passed the popular vote.) Good job, Alabama.

Information is courtesy of http://www.lovingday.org/

I first heard of this day, and resultant celebrations, on NPR this morning. And while I certainly appreciate the work of those who fought the evil laws, and intend to celebrate them for that, it feels like a day tinged also with sadness. It seems so downright crazy to me that 50 years ago my love for my husband could have been deemed illegal. Illegal because his skin has more melatonin than mine? Really? Illegal because he was born in a different place, where the sun shines down all day without a break? I don't want to try and wonder what the arguments against interracial marriages were, I don't want to learn of the hate that, to this day, still exists. I guess, in a way, it seems bizarre to say "Yeah! for June 12th, the day in history that said it was okay for me to spend the rest of my life with the man I love! How generous and wonderful of our country." What I really feel like saying is, "What in the world took them all so long?" That said, I am grateful that a large part of our country has gotten over their crazy race hang-ups. Hawaii, in particular, is a wonderful place to live as an interracial couple. Most of the people living on this island are a mix of at least a few races, so we are nothing out of the ordinary. Hawaii is also one of the very few states to never have restrictions on interracial marriage. (check-out the website for a map showing which states had laws and for how long.)

ps- The similarities between the "issue" of interracial marriage, and gay marriage are not lost on me. Gives me a lot to think about.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I too am happy to celebrate Loving Day! Mildred Loving passed away last month and there were a few articles about her in the periodicals I read. She never wanted to be in the center of the civil rights movement---she merely stated that she was a simple girl who fell in love with a boy.

It amazes me too the amount of racist hatred in our country's past. A few decades ago, Justin and I would have received spiteful stares from people if we walked down the street hand-in-hand. But nowadays our marriage doesn't even merit the batting of an eye.

So I guess it is kind of bittersweet to celebrate a day like Loving Day. Why did it take us so long?!