Miscegeny Rules

Did you know that prior to 1967, my marriage to my husband would have been a FELONY in this country? Pretty ridiculous, right? But sadly enough, there were firm laws in place that made marriage between white persons and non-white persons a felony. And did you know that this kind of legalized race discrimination had been in place in America longer than even slavery or segregation? Yup, from 1664 to 1967!

These laws were introduce by eugenics-supporting legilators, who basically wanted to maintain white supremecy and actively enforced these statutes in one state or another throughout our history until the U.S. Supreme Court case of Loving v. the State of Virginia in 1967. (Well, Alabama waited until 2000 to remove anti-miscegenation language from it's state constitution!)

American Heroes: Mildred and Richard Perry Loving

It was due to the courage of Mildred Loving, who was part African-American and Native-American, and her husband Richard Perry Loving, a Causcasian-American, that these unjusts laws were challenged. They were invaded in their home in Virginia by police who arrested them for co-habitation. Even though Mr. Loving showed them a marriage license, they were charged with violiating the Racial Integrity Act of 1924.

On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia. The trial judge in the case, Leon Bazile, echoing Johann Friedrich Blumenbach's 18th-century interpretation of race, proclaimed that

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.

As historian Peggy Pascoe points out, the arguments against interracial marriage are eerily similar to the ludicrous arguments made by the opponents of same-sex marriage:

As Reconstruction collapsed in the late 1870s, legislators, policymakers, and, above all, judges began to marshal the arguments they needed to justify the reinstatement--and subsequent expansion--of miscegenation law.

Here are four of the arguments they used:

1) First, judges claimed that marriage belonged under the control of the states rather than the federal government.

2) Second, they began to define and label all interracial relationships (even longstanding, deeply committed ones) as illicit sex rather than marriage.

3) Third, they insisted that interracial marriage was contrary to God's will, and

4) Fourth, they declared, over and over again, that interracial marriage was somehow "unnatural."

States that specifically banned marriage to Asians include Arizona, California, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

According to this logic, my marriage would be considered "unnatural" and contrary to the will of one cultural group's agreed-upon deity (often referred to as "god"). As the debate about same-sex marriage equality continues, you'll notice many conservative groups using this same reasoning. If I were that deity, I'd be pretty insulted that people would me make out to be so narrow-minded and stupid. If anything, this thing called "god" that these interest groups refer to is nothing more than a mirror of their own laziness, ignorance, and fear of change. She'd be wagging her finger at these groups yelling "Shame!"

The word "unnatural" is actually a term to describe conservative fear of the unknown, the fear of having to actually do the inner work of expanding their experiences and using their brain cells to adapt to new things. It shakes up their simplistic cosmology of a world that is more comfortable to inhabit if things are categorized in "right" and "wrong" or "good and "bad." It is *easier* or more "natural" to be passive and lazy, to stay the same and not have to think. It actually takes effort to learn how to evolve and adapt to the complexities of our changing society, evaluating unique situations with nuance and an open mind. It takes faith in the unknown and a trust in one's potential to try a new path and learn how to embrace others, even if their lifestyle choices differ from one's own. It also requires honest self-evaluation to recognize irrelevant ideologies and have the courage to scrap the ones that just don't make sense anymore.

While the landmark case of Loving v. Virginia finally made it clear that banning interracial marriage is unconstitutional, this human right to marry is still denied to millions of people in the United States today. I think that Asian-Americans should remember that it is because of this court case, these two brave souls who stood up, that we have the right to marry whomever we choose today. I hope that we can show support our fellow Americans by supporting the final act of extending marriage equality to everyone within our lifetime. It just doesn't make sense to me that we can enjoy these hard-won rights and yet still deny it to others.

To learn more on marriage equality check out the Human Rights Campaign.

Hetracil & Narth: Curing Homosexuality

More than 80 million Americans suffer from some type of Homosexuality, and one in eight persons need treatment for Homosexuality during his or her lifetime. Homosexuality is not a character flaw; it is neither a "mood" nor a personal weakness that you can change at will or by "pulling yourself together."

While doing research for a project, I came upon Hetracil, an anti-effeminate medication that claims to cure homosexuality. Yes, I know it's a spoof, but other organizations like Narth (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), tout reparative therapy and actually have a small but influential group of psychotherapists that are trying to do just that. And they actually take themselves seriously. Sadly, Narth is another group of quack therapists who graduated from fifth-tier schools but wear the guise of science in order to "remove our sin" by trying to force preconceived gender roles onto the vulnerable and confused. They continually publish papers disputing science (such as the APA) and claim that homosexuality is caused by emotionally unavailable fathers, sexual abuse, or not getting involved enough with sports – they dispute that homosexuality is biological.

Yes, this is laughable. But people actually believe it - just like some believe man used to ride dinosaurs on saddles and that the earth is still flat.

What interests me are the underlying questions of the search for therapies that are rooted in cultural discomfort rather than medical discomfort. There is this illusion that somehow "curing" oneself of this is a way to remove sin, of reversing the "abnormality" in order to restore a sense of order and "right" - who created that illusion and what is that party's agenda?

Does being hetrosexual guarantee a happy, normal life? Does being straight somehow increase one's morality or ability to create value in society? Let me frame this another way: Does being fat mean that a person will never be successful or beautiful ? Does having a learning disability mean that a person will never be able to achieve anything "worthwhile"? Does being colored mean that one's character is morally suspect? No. It doesn't. There are so many people that can prove every one of these preconceptions wrong. Can one gather alot of circumstancial evidence to build a case trying to prove the faults of each one? Yes, but at the same time it would be just as easy to build a case touting its glory too. My question is, why are we letting a small group of people decide for us what is normal or abnormal? How can we as consumers, patients, minorities exercise our power in the cultural debate?

I think the only "sin" worth removing is the intolerance, the act of denying the fact that each human being has infinite potential to build creative, happy lives just as they are. The discomfort is caused by a set of stale, tired definitions that are obsolete - this "him" and "her" society, the need for simplistic black and white rules that keep people from thinking too hard. Today's complex society is comprised of hybrids, of transient identities, nomadic selves that visit one identity after another in a given moment or a lifetime. To use medical science as a way to manipulate others and enforce so-called cultural standards is not just underhanded but evidence of institutional self-preservation. (In this case, I suspect that the support of religious organizations is not a coincidence).

There are power structures here where authority is preying on the vulnerable's fears in order to exercise a kind of control and obedience. Just think about it, if a man in an official uniform doctor's robe tells you that if you do not follow his advice, you will suffer life-threatening consequences, how do you feel? When you ask questions, they give you very complex, confusing answers, but you nod anyway, because they have a title in their name (like PhD or MD). Hey, they studied this for years (even if it was at some crappy pseudo-med school that you've never even heard of), so they must know what they are talking about, right? "Trust me, I'm a doctor." Wink.

Well, I'm interested in your thoughts. If there was a magic pill that could "cure" you, would you take it? Why?