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Interracial and LBGTQ+ Marriage Equality: Yet How come Our Current Society isn’t Legally and Socially Accepting of such Partners?



 “Ohana means family; Family means no one gets left behind”

– Stitch from Lilo and Stitch

Introduction: 

LGBTQ+ and interracial couples has faced prejudice and atrocities. Though both may seem legal, in reality, LGBTQ+ and interracial opposers have found legal loopholes to prevent such unions. Simply put, how does the past tie into marriage inequalities? And how do these historical traditional stereotypes about “perfect” families create discrimination and bias today? Why do minorities such as the LGBTQ+ community and interracial couples experience discrimination (the discrimination that would be described in the second question)? And finally, what can we do to stir more social change and end discrimination and prejudicial treatment on both interracial and LGBTQ+ marriages?

If you have ever wondered the previous questions, I will be discussing all of these questions in the following few paragraphs!

 

How I Became Interested:

As a child of lesbian Asian mothers, I noticed the different ways people would stare or talk about us. In elementary school, I saw my friends scrunch up their faces in confusion, asking me why I had two moms (it’s so strange!), or where was my dad? Whenever strangers would ask about my moms ‘husband,’ my mom would always have to correct them. After that, the stranger’s voice would change, their tone and attitude.  I heard stories about how my parents lost friends and were excluded because of their “irresponsible choice of significant other.” We heard stories from other friends that told us about how their own Asian parents had disowned them for dating a white person. My grandparents used to argue about my Buddist mom marrying into a Christian family. 

I keep this one event in particular, where a woman walked up to my family and me, and told my parents they were ‘sinners’ and that we weren’t a “real family.” My mom then said to me, even though there is such hate and hostility around LGBTQ+ families, that doesn’t mean we are not family. Her words did more than consol me, inspiring me to find out more about marriage discrimination, and set me on a path to always be interested about how to create a more accepting, kind, and safe community for all relationships, no matter what race, sexuality, or cultural differences there are.

To read more about my connection and interest in this topic, as well as some basic information you may need going forward, read my full essay: Minorities in Marriage: LGBTQ+ and Interracial Families

 

Origin and Reason Behind Injustice Towards Interracial and LGBTQ+ couples:

LGBTQ+ and interracial discrimination were built upon a foundation of ‘stereotypical racism’ and religion fueled injustice. With interracial couples, it was illegal and unaccepted for them to intermarry or commit sexual relations with each other (Posner). Cruz describes how miscegenation was caused by white supremacists ‘asserting their power’ over minority races, by classifying white women as an object you can obtain from higher status (Cruz) (Posner). White women become a ‘luxury object’ something to be protected from ‘violent races’ (Posner). Not to mention colonists were afraid that interracial marriages would create powerful alliances between races, and rebel. These fears and suspicions set ground to create an idea that interracial marriages would only create chaos and uprisings (“Almighty God Created the Races.”). Religion also plays a role in both situations (Nittle). Religion is a reason for many culture clashes, clashes that take place in interracial relationships (Nittle). 

With LGBTQ+, religions also contain homophobic views or are used in such a way to discriminate against LGBTQ+ relationships (Crompton). Religious views, originally brought by the Puritans, influenced the United States’ view on LGBTQ+ couples who deemed that LGBTQ+ relations were unholy and illegal (Crompton). Anti LGBTQ+ laws first appeared in Massachusetts, which says:

“It is a vile affection … men with men work that which is unseemly, … The penalty concluded by that state under whose authority we are is felony of death. ” (Crompton). 

Therefore religion and racism play a huge part in the creation of prejudice against LGBTQ+ and interracial couples (Crompton). Not to mention cultural clashes and pressure from family apply tensions and taboos to both LGBTQ+ and interracial relationships.

 

To see my complete analysis and finished essay on the origins of discrimination against LGBTQ+ and interracial couples, click the link: The Origins of a ‘Perfect’ Family:  How Discrimination Against Interracial and LGBTQ+ Families Originated in the United States

 

Current build-up of interracial and LGBTQ+ marriage equality rights:

James Obergefell and his deceased husband

Since the colonization of America and throughout the creation and continuation of the United States, there has been a consistent pattern of legal injustice and social discrimination against interracial and LGBTQ+ couples. Racism and homophobia appear in many places in history, like the Stonewall riots in 1969, to the legalization of same-sex marriage, and colonial laws, to Loving vs Virginia

The Stonewall riots were a pivotal point in LGBTQ+ history. Deemed the beginning of the LGBTQ+ revolution, and “The Stonewall uprising would … be marked with anniversary rallies that paved the way for the Pride Parade” (Wilson). The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, was raided by unprovoked police troops (Wilson). The fight for LGBTQ+ rights may have just begun, yet a decade passed until “same-sex couples saw the first signs of hope on the marriage front in a long time” (“Gay Marriage.”). In 1989, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors declared that “homosexual couples [can] register for domestic partnerships” (“Gay Marriage.”). This was a step towards homosexual relationships being treated like heterosexual relationships, which was important for society to see that both communities were equal. In 1996 however, the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed, which banned spousal benefits to same-sex couples like:

  • “health insurance and pension protection 
  • social security benefits
  • support and benefits for military spouses, 
  • joint income tax filing and exemption from federal estate taxes, 
  • immigration protections for binational couples… 
  • access to workplace health benefits…” (Davidson)

Yet Obergefell v. Hodges, the remaining Sections of DOMA were challenged as to its constitutionality, and the case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court (Supreme Court. Obergefell v. Hodges). The Supreme Court’s ruling declared same-sex marriage to be nationally legalized on June 26, 2015. Couples celebrated by rushing to and rainbow flags waved in front of the courthouse! However, there were many issues that were tucked away in the joy of the 2015 Supreme Court ruling. Many states had said that they would ‘wait and see’ whether the ruling would be challenged. 

“No court, no law, no rule, and no words will change the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman” (Kelly)

–  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton 

 

Richard and Mildred Loving

Marriage inequality exists in other ways, and it was not that long ago that interracial marriage was not tolerated in the United States. Interracial couples have unfortunately fallen into the background. Interracial marriage is a taboo, and “as with so many taboos in American society, interracial dating is tolerated best when it is not discussed” (Gross). On June 12, 1967, the legalization of such unions came with the case of Loving v. Virginia when the Supreme Court ruled interracial marriage state bans conflicted the 14th amendment, Equal Protection and Due Process (Cline). That day, much like how LGBTQ+ couples rushed to marry once legal, many interracial couples were ecstatic to be able to legally wed.

 So sure, legally, you can marry whomever you please, yet cultural differences have been trying to keep interracial couples apart. (CBS News. “50 Years Later, Interracial Couples Still Face Hostility from Strangers.”) (Bowden). For example, D.J. and Angela Ross reported that their families had warned them against marrying across race and tried to prevent them from getting together.

“‘my grandma on both sides used to tell me, ‘Boy, you better leave those white girls alone or else we’re going to come find you hanging from a tree’’”

–  D.J.

“have friends with black people, and that’s fine. But don’t ever marry a black man”  

–  Angela

Each spouse’s family felt wary of the other, based on stereotypes formed and the culture of racism and distrust that has formed in the United States (Wang, Hansi Lo, and Marisa Peñaloza).

Discrimination also came from complete strangers and often violently. Daniel Rowe and James H. Jackson stabbed and killed those who were in interracial relationships. Jackson reasoned that he “hated black men, especially those who dated white women” and that became his motivation to kill those in such relationships (CBS News. “Cops: NYC Stabbing Suspect Said Killing ‘Was Practice’ for Times Square Attack on Black Men.”).

To summarize the current issue, there are many cases of discrimination against interracial and LGBTQ+ spouses and couples. The main misconception is that ‘hey, the marriage equality agenda is complete due to the fact that both interracial and same-sex marriages are made legal’. That is not true, there are still disagreements from both the state and individuals even after both marriage unions were legalized. Interracial relationships still are threatened or discouraged by family members and strangers, while LGBTQ+ faces discrimination as well. I have lined out a way to integrate LGBTQ+ and interracial relationships into our community and put an end to said discrimination.

 

To learn the full extent of the current problem that LGBTQ+ and interracial couples face, see my full essay here: A Loveable world: The social and legal Process to Aiding LGBTQ+ and Interracial Families

What steps should we take to ensure total marriage equality?

There are many things to be done, many paths we can take, that could lead us to a more equitable and efficient route of a socially acceptable and legally equal ground for all relationships. My compiled solution is based on two main ideas,

  1. Removing all marriage bans and prejudicial laws and fight against those who are opposed 
  2. Normalization and mandatory education on relationships and social justice 

Starting with number one, many states still have laws on the books that attempt to prevent gay marriage. Many American citizens and most of the states grudgingly accept the 2015 ruling as the “law of the land,” but whether or not they truly act like that is a different matter (Assun). Take the case of Kim Davis, a Kentucky County Clerk who decided to withhold marriage licenses from a same-sex couple (Assun). “Davis’ defiant act of civil disobedience turned her into a conservative hero” and she was praised by many public figures and republicans (Assun). Yet, all this approval and admiration quickly disappeared after the state of Kentucky was fined a total of $224,000, and to remove their ‘no marriage license’ policy due to Davis’ mistake (Assun). Experiencing consequences for discrimination on LGBTQ+ couples forced states to look at the legalization of same-sex marriage as a permanent ruling that should be taken seriously. Interracial couples faced a similar sort of ordeal in the past, with clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses, or marriage officiants refusing to participate in an interracial marriage. In a class-action lawsuit filed by three interracial couples in Virginia, a directive from the Attorney General stated that: “No one applying for a marriage license in the state should be forced to declare his or her race” (Fortin). This was a wonderful step to creating a world where race should not even be a factor in deciding whether or not a couple should be married.

As proven, legal action is extremely important to changing laws and societal views on marriage equality. An individual should also fight against LGBTQ+ and interracial marriage equality oppressors, and help completely remove any laws that tamper with marriage equality. As an individual, it is important to share your voice and confront those who oppose these issues to help normalize all kinds of marriages and to break down the psychological boundaries between heterosexual single raced marriages and marriages of all kinds.

 

 

For my second proposal, I hope to normalize and create a better understanding of LGBTQ+ and interracial issues that couples face. Studies show that there are more people today who are willing to marry those of a different race than them, compared 30 years ago, due to the process of normalization.

The following charts display how normalization progresses and works:

The Chicago Tribune states that, interracial newlyweds “rose from 3 percent since the Loving case to 17 in 2015” (McCoppin).
A Pew poll also shows that over time, people are more receptive to and accepting of LGBTQ+ marriage:
“in 2001 found that 57 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage and only 35 percent supported it. Fifteen years later, in 2016, a Pew poll found almost the complete opposite: Americans supported same-sex marriage by a margin of 55 percent to 37 percent” (“Gay Marriage”).

With an ever-evolving world, there is always something more to learn, and education is just a form of updating yourself to match the pace of the world. I propose mandatory classes that would last over two years of high school, including an in-depth course on sexuality, and that would also discuss today’s present issues, an example being racism vs equality, global warming and more. The course would have different political organizations presenting at the school every three weeks or so. This would prepare students for voting and presidential debates, giving them a chance to align their political values and understand the government they live under. I think these courses would not only be beneficial to teaching political issues and the outside world, but they would also give students a perfect intro to social justice and activism. This may seem far fetched and absurd, but a class teaching life long skills on how to navigate the world and young people’s own race and sexuality would benefit and speed up work that activists can do, and empower students to use their voices.

As for an individual, there are many current organizations you can either donate to or volunteer for. On a smaller level, you could attend events and participate in the Pride Parade marches. There are also many Facebook political pages that work to spread information through popular media, and which have proven to be effective. Look into how you can contribute, physically or financially. Spread the word and use your voice. I hope my proposal and suggestions for what you can do as an individual has motivated you to take action and participate in your community. I heard that the purpose of life was to create a better one for the next generation and if that’s true then these suggestions would help you to do exactly that. 

 

To see the full plan and process of making LGBTQ+ and interracial marriages socially and legally accepted, see my full essay here: A Loveable world: The social and legal Process to Aiding LGBTQ+ and Interracial Families

Works cited and referenced:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/13Z3R1QAFo-txtv8YgvW0ZVfq0beakalidTY84W5xSPw/edit?usp=sharing 

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COMMENTS: 4
  1. April 23, 2020 by Carl Thiermann

    Megan—This was fascinating—and I appreciated the blend of personal and historical data and research. Good variety of visuals, as well. Glad to know you’ve got some curriculum suggestions lined up and ready to put into practice. You don’t change people’s thinking without bold ideas!

  2. April 24, 2020 by Ryan

    Hey Megan,

    This is an awesome and persuasive project! For a reader unfamiliar with the topic, you really gave helpful insight on marriage equality history. Your passion to resolve this social injustice is evident with your personal story and substantial research. You really impacted me to familiarize myself with the topic more and to take steps to help.

    A superb effort with the project and tackling the issue!

  3. April 25, 2020 by kira

    Hi Megan. Nice job! I really enjoyed your project. I think that it is a really important topic that can sometimes be overlooked. Your webpage is also engaging and has a lot of information. Nice job (again)!

  4. April 26, 2020 by Emma

    Hi Megan, thank you for creating this post! As someone in the LGBTQ+ community, I am faced with the possibility of being refused a marriage license when the time comes, and that really scares me. I think your ideas about how we can ensure total marriage equality are great and I completely agree that we should have mandatory education about sexuality. Our main biological purpose as human beings is to reproduce, so it is no wonder that sexuality is a huge part of all of our lives. It’s a topic that is often censored or avoided because it’s seen as inappropriate, but I believe that normalizing sexuality and having open conversations about it will greatly increase the acceptance of all kinds of love. It’s easy to lose hope in the world when I see how my community is treated, but your post gave me so much confidence in the progress we are able to make by raising our voices and simply starting a conversation. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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