May 31, 2009

Miscegenation and Gay Marriage: Both Abominations?

The plaintiffs, Mildred and Richard LovingImage via Wikipedia

During the Civil Rights era, many American whites opposed miscegenation (i.e., mixing of racial groups through cohabitation, marriage, sexual relations, etc.). In fact, anti-miscegenation laws were common in many states until 1967. Today, such laws are widely acknowledged as mistaken examples of shameful bigotry. And yet, while watching African Americans protesting the Washington DC Council's recent legalization of gay marriage, I realized that precious little was learned from the Civil Rights era.

In 1967, the year of the landmark Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia, interracial marriages were illegal in 16 states. The case involved an interracial couple from Virginia (where interracial marriage was illegal) who traveled to Washington DC to be married. Upon their return to Virginia, they were arrested and informed that their marriage license was not valid in Virginia.

What was the big deal over interracial relations? Why were two consenting adults being arrested simply for loving each other? The judge who heard Loving had the following to say:
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.
Sound familiar? It should. Much of the rationale used for anti-miscegenation laws mirrors that currently used to justify opposition to gay marriage. Much of the religious gibberish uttered by those bigots is now used by modern anti-gay bigots.

Those who opposed miscegenation were convinced that race mixing was an abomination in the eyes of their god. We hear the same argument today, only this time it is directed at gay marriage.

It is bad enough when the privileged white power structure engages in such stupidity. To see African Americans do it, when they themselves were so recently victims of this sort of hate, is infuriating. Is this really what was gained from the Civil Rights movement: African Americans can now join whites in spewing hate and bigotry and another group? I sure as hell hope not.

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