Last week’s inaugural Ethics of Lust piece inspired some intellectual and encouraging comments from you all, and I am just tickled pink triangles that you are so eager to engage in these conversations about the laws and sexuality with me. I just want to give everyone a big electronic, consensual, non-sexual hug. *group hug!*
Today’s subject matter – as most future posts will be – was inspired by comments made on last week’s post. Turns out, many of you were upset to see that a black man having sex with a white woman was on the Cambria List of potentially obscene pornographic subject matters. You were probably upset because, well, racism is actually very upsetting and has led to multiple horrific laws enacted to enable its existence.
Today, we’re focusing our discussion on one particular type of racist laws: anti-miscegenation laws, or laws outlawing the mixing of different racial groups in marriage, cohabitation or sexual relations.
I should state right off the bat that I’m in an interracial relationship, so I’m quite biased when it comes to this subject. In the same way that being a big ol’ gaybo apparently makes me unfit to objectively talk about gay rights, being an exogamist – or someone who “mates” outside of their race – must make me unfit to objectively talk about how messed up anti-miscegenation laws are. So to hell with objectivity, I’ll be just subjective.
It probably shouldn’t, considering how often other civil rights are taken away by voting and legislation, but it shocked me to find out that 46% of Mississippi Republicans would vote to ban interracial marriage if given the chance. While I was unable to find out how much of the overall population that is, I know that it’s a scary amount of bigotry. Luckily, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia, they won’t get the chance to vote on that particular subject.
However, despite the 1967 outlawing of all race-based marriage restrictions, in 2009 this asshole judge:
refused to marry this adorable couple:
solely because they were of different races. He justified his racism by stating that he was doing it to protect the children, because children of mixed races have too hard of a life (for proof, see Barack Obama, Devon Aoki, and all children of Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs). He went on to state that he wasn’t racist because he had a black friend once. Ok, he didn’t really say that, but that’s pretty much the same things as saying he marries black couples occasionally, which is what he really said.
Gay marriage activists are rightfully finding connections and similarities between the anti-anti-interracial marriage movement and the gay marriage movement, but their mistake is often referring to anti-interracial oppression as a thing of the past that we’ve already overcome. Despite the fact that interracial marriages are at an all-time high in the United States and support for interracial marriage is high (at least among 18-25 year olds), interracial couples of all cultures and creeds still face major discrimination and obstacles.
For some quick examples: Bob Jones University in South Carolina waited until 2000 to remove it’s ban against interracial relationships; in 2005, a group of men spread toxic mercury around an interracial couple’s house in Cleveland to encourage them to leave the neighborhood; and in 2008, four marines killed their superior officer because he was involved in an interracial relationship.
So why is it that interracial marriage pisses people off so badly? I remember when I was young my mom told me that kids of interracial parents have it rough and pointed to my good friend as an example. I then poignantly pointed out that his dad was an abusive alcoholic and blaming his rough childhood on his mixed race was, well, racist. She stormed away offended at being called a racist.
Is this adversity to mixed race children solely a racist concept? Is there actually proof that mixed race children have more issues than those whose parents come from the same race and culture?
Every study I found on the subject was wrought with so much racism and stereotypes that it was impossible to weed out any valid scientific data supporting this. I did, however, find some compelling arguments suggesting children of mixed race parents are healthier and more attractive than their same race counterparts and that genetic diversity actually helps weed out disease.
If not for the kids, then why? I hate to just rely on the obvious argument of racism, but I’m afraid that’s all anti-miscegenation laws come down to. So sorry, folks, but I think all we’ve really learned today is that racism still exists, despite multiple laws condemning it.
Maybe the gay marriage movement can learn a bit from the anti-anti-interracial marriage movement and focus less on the government given right to marry and more on the discrimination surrounding laws limiting marriage. Because, as Loving v. Virginia shows, marriage does not equal acceptance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: L.M. Fleming is a writer, sexpert, recent law school graduate and occasional burlesque dancer. Although she currently resides in Portland, Oregon, she often travels the world in search of colorful queers and frothy beers. When not volunteering, cooking or attempting to be crafty, she does logistical consulting for creative projects, manages a nonprofit dedicated to making promotional documentary films for other nonprofits and runs SinfulMisadventures.com, a site dedicated to the Seven Deadly Sins.