Friday, October 16, 2009

Voting on Marriage

Many, many of the proponents of Prop8 and similar bans on marriage equality argue that the voters have spoken, and we should just shut up. What they fail to understand is something that was very clear to our Founding Fathers: pure democracy is mob tyranny. The point of the Constitution is to protect the minority from the majority, so that all consent to be governed.

In 1948, the Supreme Court of California struck down laws that prevented inter-racial marriage, in Perez v. Sharp.

In 1968, in Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down such laws nationally.

Now, what was the view of the people? As shown by Gallup, not until 1991 did a plurality of Americans approve of inter-racial marriages. Indeed, one might argue that the decision of 1968 sped it up, and even then, the electorate only caught up with the law 30 years later.

And even today, relationships between black and white can be politically perilous. Despite having a mixed-race president in the White House.
A sharp counterpoint was the 2006 Tennessee Senate race which then-Rep. Harold Ford, an African-American, lost narrowly to Republican Bob Corker after the final days of the campaign were consumed by a Republican National Committee ad linking Ford to a scantily clad young blond woman. Ford’s allies charged it was a thinly veiled attempt to tap into old Southern fears about black men and white women.

And it seems to be a current that still remains just below the surface in Tennessee politics: Ford’s subsequent marriage to a white woman was widely viewed as a major barrier to another run.
And, in case you think that's an aberration, think again. Reported in the AP,
A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."
Racism and other forms of bigotry run deep. But don't tell anyone to wait for the electorate to catch up. Justice delayed is justice denied. Still, we believe that the arc of history bends towards justice.


James said...

Truth is always stranger than fiction.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Sadly, Louisiana makes news once again in a manner that embarrasses at least some of us.

Lionel Deimel said...

Good post. Your chart teaches a wonderful lesson—several, actually, including that strongly held attitudes can indeed change, albeit slowly.

IT said...

THank for coming by.

Lionel, I believe that the slow change on the anti-miscegenation front would have been MUCH slower had SCOTUS not found for Loving in 1967. That would have been shameful

I strongly believe that injustice is injustice, whatever the color or creed of the victim. We must speak out whenever we see it. Because when They deny any couple the right to marry, they deny me, and all of us.