Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Happy Loving Day!

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Loving vs. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage in the United States.

Read that again. Just forty years ago, it was illegal for a Black person and a White person to get married. I'm only 38, my wife's only 42, and I have a sister who's over 50. Within our lifetimes, racism was enshrined in the laws of many states, and not yet considered unconstitutional by the federal government.

Just one year after "Loving", Kirk and Uhura shared the first interracial kiss in television history. Think about that -- at a time when this program about the progress of mankind in the future was airing, it was illegal for two human beings who happened to have different skin colors to marry each other. I daren't think about what would have happened to Spock's parents, a human and a Vulcan, contemplating a union in that kind of environment.

In some ways it's hard to imagine what people were thinking back then, how such blatant hatred and racism wouldn't inspire automatic revulsion. And yet, something like 20% of Americans still think it is wrong for whites and blacks to marry. Who can defend such bigotry? Let's turn to the very words they themselves wrote to find out. Judge Leon Bazile said in his original judgement:

In this State marriage is treated as a civil contract, but it is more than a mere civil contract, it is a public institution established by God himself, is recognized in all Christian and civilized nations and is essential to the peace, happiness, and well being of society. * * *"

"* * * The right in the States to control, to guard, protect and preserve this God-giving, civilizing and Christianizing institution is of inestimable importance, and cannot be surrendered, nor can the States suffer or permit any interference therewith.


And of course later Judge Bazile wrote:

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 showes that he did not intend for the races to mix.


Does that sound familiar to you? It should. It's the same exact "reasoning" used to justify the enshrinement of homosexual bigotry in state laws today. I wish our generation had the sense to learn the lesson of Richard Perry Loving and Mildred Delores Jeter, that extending the protection of marriage to two people sincerely in love and committed to each other can only make the institution more secure, more profound, more valuable to our society.

Will our children look back forty years from now at this period in time and wonder how we could have lived with ourselves, how people could harbor such irrational hatred of two people in love?

I fervently, earnestly, and with all my heart hope so. Today we celebrate the victory in one battle of this long war for freedom, even while we fight on a new front. Bigotry and hatred may change the masks they show the world, but hopefully there will always be those who, like Loving and Jeter, stand up and call it for what it is.

Happy Loving Day, everyone! Now get out there and love someone, dammit!

8 comments:

Allen said...

"The right in the States to control, to guard, protect and preserve this God-giving, civilizing and Christianizing institution is of inestimable importance, ..."

I know a Hindu couple who have been married for about 10 years. Wait until I tell them that their marriage is a "Christianizing institution." Boy, won't they be surprised. :-)

Shiva bless America.

Skemono said...

Eheh. Thanks for the link.

Skemono said...

And I should probably point out that the first two paragraphs you cite aren't Bazile's words; he was quoting State v. Gibson, an 1871 Indiana case.

Jeff Hebert said...

Thanks Skemono, appreciate the comments. Great post on your blog as well, thanks for making mention of it over at Ed's place, I enjoyed reading it very much.

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of trouble with the use of the word "hatred." Bigotry yes, and for some an unconcous bigotry may be at play. Yet, most people who oppose change do not hate homosexuals nor the concept of "normalizing" a homosexual lifestyle. They firmly believe homosexuality is wrong, and that the traditional hetersexual relationship should be preserved. For the majority of the vocal Christians who oppose gay marriage I believe they are mature enough to "hate the sin but love the sinner." In my small sphere of social and professional contacts, those Christians who oppose the homosexual lifestyle have close friends and relatives who are gay. They love them, but do not agree with their choices. Now as to the question of if banning gay marriage is right or not, and as to the question of if it is not analagous to the ban on interracial marriage,,, it does seem inevitable doesn't it, and yes, it sure sounds familiar. But different people can disagree with each other strongly without hatred nor prejudice.

My revolutionary idea is to seperate marriage into the realm of civil law alone. The blending of a legal contract and the spiritual/emotional/religous contract (ancient Hebrew used the word berit) is a step which I do not like the government involved. In other words, as a Catholic, there is a huge step between marriage and the Sacrament of Marriage. When I divorced, the breaking of the civil contract was the easy part. It was just money. The breaking of my vow to God, to another person, to my kids lives, that was huge and personal. I do not wish nor want to deal with lawyers or officials in those matters.
Just my opinion-
Jimmy

Jeff Hebert said...

I'd be 100% for government getting out of the marriage business, and providing only the civil aspects of the contract. I think it's foolish for a secular government to be in the business of defining what is and isn't holy. Let them provide for and enforce a civil contract just like they would any other.

I suspect that most Christians would rebel at that notion, but as for this secularist, I'm all aboard.

I would take exception to the use of "choice", however. I don't know of anyone who would voluntarily engage in a lifestyle that would subject them to the hatred, abuse, and discrimination that homosexuals encounter all the time. That's not something a rational person "chooses". Most gay people were born with their sexual orientation already set, just like yours was. Do you remember the day you "chose" to be heterosexual? I don't -- I'm just straight by nature. The same is true for most gay people; they didn't "choose" to be gay any more than you "choose" to be straight.

I'd further question the use of the phrase "homosexual lifestyle". The lifestyle they wish to engage in is the same one you and I enjoy -- the "married" lifestyle. They simply wish to be afforded the same opportunity any other two consenting adults can have, to ensure that their health care wishes are met, that their partner will have the chance to be involved in fundamental matters of their estate and well being, and that they will not be discriminated against.

That's not a "homosexual lifestyle" any more than a Black person and a White person wanting to get married are engaging in a "Miscegenation lifestyle".

Finally:

They firmly believe homosexuality is wrong, and that the traditional hetersexual relationship should be preserved. For the majority of the vocal Christians who oppose gay marriage I believe they are mature enough to "hate the sin but love the sinner."

How is this any different from the argument used by opponents of interracial marriage, who also didn't hate the couple, but rather the immoral act of a White and a Black having sex?

Jeff from BR said...

I don't think the comparison of gay marriage with black/white marriage is a fair one. Black/white, asian/latino, or whatever ethnic group you use, is still a marriage between a man and a womam, not a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

By the way, I am enjoying your blogs, the discussions that follow, even though I don't agree with some. Everyone has a viewpoint and I like hearing all side.
Jeff from BR

Maximus Doom said...

I am with Jeff from BR..whey does everything gay keep getting compared with black and/or black and white; two TOTALLY different issues! Anyway, Great blog and some fascinating discussion on some fascinating topics. Hmm....I guess I should have studied up on this aside from the civil rights pictures of people always getting hosed. I suppose there are some things we will still be yacking about until the cows come home.