Most of us would be shocked if we heard that a state passed a law barring interracial marriages today. Yet we are only a few years removed from when that was common place. As a matter of fact, it was just in the year 2000 when Alabama (Sweet Home?) became the final state to repeal its law against mixed-raced marriage. Just as with Prop 8 in California, it was voters in Alabama that decided whether the ban was okay. Hopefully that astonishes anyone reading this.
We are quite at home with marriage discrimination in the good old U.S. of A. To be fair, the Supreme Court’s decision in the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia sealed the coffin on all race-based legal restrictions on marriage (not Alabama’s 2000 repeal). The Loving decision, nonetheless, didn’t encourage states to take the laws off the books. No, those laws stayed on in many states as a “signing statement” of sorts; as if to say “we will comply with the (insert derogatory expletive) loving Supreme Court, but we don’t like it.
Here we are in 2011 and many would argue “we’ve come a long way.” Have we? As I’ve discussed before, racism is far from gone. I do believe it has receded in many respects, but there are still powerful forces acting now in much more covert ways.
Beyond that, unjust and unlawful discrimination continues to rear its ugly head outside of the types based on race. Today, there are law abiding, decent, contributing members of our society (the best of the best at times), who have found the loves of their lives, but to whom our so-called secular state governments reject as deviants not worthy of the life-time commitment of marriage, simply because they are of the same sex.
Many people in Virginia in 1967 wouldn’t understand why a white would want to marry a black anymore than some today would understand why a man would want to marry a man. Many Virginians would even have used the Bible to defend their position against interracial marriages. Nonetheless, it was as true then as it is now… this can be added up to nothing more than fear and/or hate (I qualify this below).
I know many people who hold the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. I’ve even heard Barack Obama use those words. I know that this belief is not necessarily held with malice. In fact, it is a genuine belief held by many. I intend no disrespect to those well-meaning individuals. They don’t deserve disrespect.
They could, however, benefit from the lessons that history often teaches us. Well-meaning Christians in the southern states where not only slave-owners, and later the enforcers of Jim Crowism, but even more recently opposed to interracial marriages.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints did not let African-Americans hold positions of leadership/ the priesthood until the year 1978. In any case, I believe there is room for some humility among those who use religion as the basis of their objections to same-sex marriages.
Perhaps the second greatest commandment given from God sums it up: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Apply the golden rule and see where that gets you. At the very least, admit that you don’t hold all the answers. Try a little less to control the free agency of others.
Here’s a video worth sharing. It’s an Australian ad campaign. While two-thirds the voting population there supports marriage equality, others in power are blocking it. This video inspired my article. #NOH8