Wednesday, November 04, 2009

mrs and mrs (or mr and mr) loving

In 1967 the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Richard and Mildred Loving, a mixed race couple who were arrested in their Virginia bedroom for being married and living together. Richard was white. Mildred was black.

The Lovings had married in Washington DC, then returned to their home state of Virginia. After the arrest, the judge suspended their sentence on the condition that the Lovings leave the state and not return for 25 years. They complied--and took their case to the US Supreme Court.

Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.


Today, I am disappointed. The people of Maine voted to strike down the laws allowing same-gender couples to marry. In Washington state, the passage of a domestic partnership law currently leads with a narrow 2% margin and slightly over half of the votes counted.

People--since when do the voters get to decide who marries? Do voters get to determine civil rights? And furthermore, "separate but equal" is not equal. If it's not the same...it's not the same.

Let me put it this way:

Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the...classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious...discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, ...resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
Just as a little reminder, here is the text of the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

How appropriate that the rights of interracial couples were won by a couple named Loving.

5 comments:

julochka said...

i'm really glad that i live in a country where this isn't an issue. tho' now same sex couples are fighting to be married in churches rather than just at the city hall. and some ministers are already doing it, quietly.

Deb Shucka said...

Very powerfully put!

Christina said...

this hits home for me. my grandmother (white), my grandfather (black) were married, back in the day. one day my grandfather was arrested for walking down the street with her. his own wife.
no person should tell another, that they can't be married. woman woman man man. all human beings.
one love~

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I was just thinking the same thing.

sierramadre said...

In Louisiana, a justice of the peace refused to perform a marriage ceremony for an interracial couple. Officials, including the governor, called for him to step down, but he refused. He finally tendered his resignation effective November 3, 2009. The governor said his decision to resign was long overdue.