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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Loving vs. Virginia

It must have been at a short-term internship I had at some point, though I no longer remember the job, but I do remember being engaging by this woman in the office - a secretary, perhaps - in a dialogue about race. She seemed to be a genuinely nice person who opposed the idea of mixed marriage because of the difficulty it would impose on the children.

I mention that today because this is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down the laws that banned interracial marriage. The full text can be found here. Incidentally, though no longer enforced, some anti-miscegenation laws were still on the books until the end of the 20th century.

Miscegenation. First time I ever saw this word, probably in Ebony magazine when I was fairly young, I didn't know what it meant, but I figured it was bad, not only because of the prefix, but because of the less than positive spin it got in many of the articles.

I'm not 100% sure of my heritage, but there is this woman, my maternal grandmother's grandmother, who was English or Irish. There are either Dutch or German (a/k/a, Pennsylvania Dutch) in my background as well.

In any case, there has been a steady increase in the number of "mixed marriages" in the last 40 years; some numbers are available here and at this PDF. There have a number of prominent mixed race people in the American culture, from Tiger Woods to Barack Obama, that - perhaps - makes it more "acceptable". This is not to say that mixed race kids don't get hassled or are asked to "choose" in which tribe they belong. But, as a composer once said, "It's getting better all the time." Or so I choose to feel.
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I wasn't looking to go there, but, in looking up some citations, I found a couple articles that suggest that the precedent in Loving vs. Virginia reflect an "evolving society" when it comes to gay marriage. A quote from this article:
The rationale used by religious and political leaders in an attempt to ban same-sex marriage in the United States is being compared to the arguments used to support discrimination laws in the landmark civil rights case Loving vs. Virginia.

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