Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Why the Ugly Rhetoric Against Gay Marriage Is Familiar to this Historian of Miscegenation
By Peggy Pascoe
Ms. Pascoe is Associate Professor and Beekman Chair of Northwest and Pacific History at the University of Oregon. She is completing a book on the significance of miscegenation law in United States history.
We are in the midst of an attempt to ground a category of discrimination in the fundamental social bedrock of marriage law. I would argue that it is virtually impossible to understand the current debate over same-sex marriage without first understanding the history of American miscegenation laws and the long legal fight against them, if only because both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage come to this debate, knowing or unknowingly, wielding rhetorical tools forged during the history of miscegenation law. The arguments white supremacists used to justify for miscegenation laws--that interracial marriages were contrary to God's will or somehow unnatural--are echoed today by the most conservative opponents of same-sex marriage. And supporters of same-sex marriage base their cases on the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, echoing the position the U.S. Supreme Court took when it declared miscegenation laws unconstitutional in the case of Loving v. Virginia. Both sides confront the structures of marriage law exclusion that were also forged during the history of miscegenation, including, as I show below, the legal maneuvering over the seemingly minor bureaucratic practice of issuing marriage licenses.
A Brief History of Miscegenation Laws
Today, when one out of every fifteen American marriages is interracial, many people are surprised to learn that laws prohibiting interracial marriage (otherwise known as miscegenation laws) were so deeply embedded in U.S. history that they would have to be considered America's longest-lasting form of legal race discrimination--they lasted far longer than either slavery or school segregation. All told, miscegenation laws were in effect for nearly three centuries, from 1664 until 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally declared them unconstitutional in the Loving decision. CLICK ABOVE FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE....

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