Saturday, May 12, 2012

Miscegenation and Same Sex Marriage: The Road Ahead


The opposition to same sex marriage on religious grounds is all too familiar to the miscegenation laws that ruled this country for generations. To think that it wasn’t until 1967 when the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Loving v. Virginia that miscegenation laws were unconstitutional and the law in Virginia and 15 other states were immediately struck down.  Just 45 years ago it was still lawful in 16 states to arrest, convict, and imprison couples of different races for being in love. 

Today, a similar battle rages for same-sex couples.  And while public opinion polls have been dramatically shifting in favor of support of same-sex marriage over the last 10 years, this week’s vote in North Carolina proved that opinion polls and voting results are two different things as the Tar Heel State voted to reject same sex marriage.  In fact, while President Obama’s interview with Robin Roberts was hailed as a breakthrough for same-sex rights, he did say that he believed the definition to a state’s rights issue.  I have a significant problem with that position.  Firstly, civil rights and liberties are universal and should not be decided by local voters and state legislatures.  Secondly, it is the federal government, not state government, that controls immigration (did you here that Arizona?) and citizenship;  a same sex couple may be recognized as married in New York, but if one member of the couple is foreign born, they cannot achieve the same citizenship rights as a heterosexual couple.

The President needs to issue an executive order striking DOMA from the books and requiring the Departments of Homeland Security and State to immediately recognize the citizenship rights of same sex couples.  If President Lincoln could do it to end slavery, if President Truman could do it to end segregation in the Armed Forces, then President Obama can do it to end the ban on same sex marriage.

I close with this quote from the court ruling establishing miscegenation from the Georgia State Supreme Court in 1869 "...moral or social equality between the different races...does not in fact exist, and never can. The God of nature made it otherwise, and no human law can produce it, and no human tribunal can enforce it. There are gradations and classes throughout the universe. From the tallest archangel in Heaven, down to the meanest reptile on earth, moral and social inequalities exist, and must continue to exist throughout all eternity."  Listening to social conservatives we could be talking about same sex marriage in 2012.  We have not come very far.

And that is sad.

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