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.