Pestorking Raccoons are the Opiate of the Masses
After Barack Obama historically announced his support for States’ Rights regarding gay marriage yesterday, we thought we’d take a fresh look at Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court case that struck down laws against interracial marriages. How, we wondered, did Earl Warren make a federal case out of it?
The Fourteenth Amendment, of course. Equal protection under the law. It was only ratified in 1868; we’ll get around to implementing it sooner or later.
But a couple of details from the decision caught our attention. The reason we were looking it up was obvious: The marriage of Obama’s parents would have been illegal in a third of the country. Hawaii was cool with it. And so was the District of Columbia, where Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were married in June 1958.
It’s only when the Happy Couple moved to Virginia a few months later that trouble arose. That October, a grand jury indicted them for violating the state ban.
So: A legal marriage in one state (well, District), challenged by another. It’s not just that the Obamas couldn’t get married in a third of the country; they couldn’t stay married in a third of the country. It’s nice that Obama personally supports gay marriage; we’re sure many fine liberals personally supported interracial marriage when Obama was born. But hey, y’know, those decisions are best left to the states.
The other detail from Loving reveals one way those state bans were justified: God’s Will. The Virginia trial judge explains how he’s just being a good Christian:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
See, Virginia was defending God-ordained traditional marriage, just like folks do today. And if Earl Warren hadn’t fucked with Divine Providence, for all we know Virginia would still be defending God-ordained traditional same-race marriage today. We don’t see Bob McDonnell rocking that boat.
But what’s done is done, and what’s not done remains to be done. Maybe by the time Sasha and Malia are grown up and members of a politically powerful voting bloc, the arc of the moral universe will have bent a little more toward justice. You can wait another thirty years, can’t you?