Posted on | May 3, 2012 | 21 Comments
In 1958, a young woman and a young man were married in the District of Columbia. They married and then returned home to their home state of Virginia, where they were arrested and charged with violating the “Racial Integrity Act” which prohibited a marriage between any white person and any non-white person. The Loving’s were arrested in their bedroom, where police hoped to find them in the midst of sex so they could be charged with an additional crime as well. Prior to the Loving’s arrest, several other mixed-race couples were subjected to felony convictions under various anti-miscegenation laws throughout the South.
In 1967, the Lovings, who had already been convicted and sentenced to one year in prison or an immediate departure from the state of Virginia, had their case ruled on by the United States Supreme Court. In that unanimous decision, the court stated:
“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 … 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 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 … discrimination.”
The elipses contained in that quote were put in place of the word “racial” because I do not believe that decision was pigeon-holed to be solely important to citizens of different colors. Instead, the decision by the United States Supreme Court was made based on the Fourteenth Amendment… an Amendment that does not deal with race, but with citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that no state deprive any citizen of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law and the United States Supreme Court held that depriving citizens from marriage fell squarely under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Read that quote from the Court again.
Instead of “racial” put in the words “sexual orientation.”
In the 1950s, law makers were terrified of the burgeoning rights of the African American population. They wanted to keep them tucked away, separate… different. Law makers, especially in the south (and yes, then the South reached all the way up to Virginia), thought that by passing these laws, they could keep things “pure.” They could do God’s work by making sure that African American’s didn’t “soil” the white race by marrying into it.
Fast forward sixty years and here we are again. Only rather than the African American population being pigeon-holed into second class citizenship it is the homosexual population.
Answer me this… why do we care?
Why is it so important to limit the rights of another group of people?
Are their rights bothering you?
Are they hurting you physically with their decision to dedicate their lives to another human being? To grow old with someone? To share memories and stories and love?
What is it about marriage… be it interracial or homosexual… that bothers people so very much?
Maybe you can tell me, North Carolina, because I don’t understand it. The Supreme Court of the United States has declared marriage a “basic civil right.” Basic, defined as “fundamental,” which means, among other things that the United States Supreme Court believes that marriage is an ESSENTIAL part of being a citizen. Essential. Part of what makes a person a citizen of this country.
So who are you, North Carolina law makers, to decide that there are men and women who don’t qualify for your club of citizenship?
Amendment One is not being proposed to ban same-sex marriage… that is already illegal in North Carolina. Instead, Amendment One is being proposed to add that ban to the state constitution… to have the constitution of the state read that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union valid or recognized in the state. The only one.
No civil unions.
No domestic partnerships.
No rights for anyone who loves different than you.
The Lovings were forced to leave the state they called home because they loved differently than the state thought they should. In 2007, Mildred Loving looked out on a political landscape very different from the one facing her and her deceased husband in the 1950s. She loved her husband for the rest of her life, raising children and enjoying grandchildren even after his death. And as she surveyed this political landscape she offered one small opinion:
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.”
Not that it should matter, but I am a Christian. The fact is, I love Jesus with all my heart, but I don’t feel it is my job to legislate my beliefs on anyone else. Although, with that in mind, I honestly believe that Jesus would be first on the picket line, telling the government, telling North Carolina to “love.” Telling them to love their neighbor as themselves. Telling them to cast the first stone only if they are without sin. I believe Jesus would reach out his hand to the men and women who are scared of what this means for the children they’ve already adopted, the houses they own, the lives they live… and he would stand with them.
Because it is the right thing to do.
Because no one should be reduced to second-class citizenship.
Not in this country.