Loving Day thoughts: Marriage equality for all

This Sunday marks the 44th anniversary of Loving v. Virgina, the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage.  Now in 2011, a different struggle related to marriage equality is on the political forefront.  Comparisons and connections between interracial marriage and same sex marriage have been made in pieces like this one (via Huffington Post) and this one (via American Foundation for Equal Rights).  The Loving Day and marriage equality movements were also the focus of a workshop at at the 2010 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference at De Paul University (podcast available here via iTunes U).

MRN Chair-elect Heather Lou shared her thoughts and personal reflections on this topic with an excerpt from a paper she wrote recently:

“Race is nothing but an accident at birth, for children cannot choose their genealogy” (Moran, 2001, p. 7).  I would argue the same for sexual orientation. I didn’t choose to be born on June 12, 1988, to my White mother and Chinese father, nor did I know the inequality of basic civil rights as a member of the queer community. As a Multiracial, Pansexual student affairs administrator, I am aware of the ways I navigate the  intersection of my identities on my respective campus and racialized landscape of American society. I am openly  Multiracial and Pansexual to my peers, but I am aware there is an increasing number of queer students of color that do not have the luxury of moving between the borderlands of race and sexuality. …

The legalization of interracial marriage on June 12, 1967 ruled that “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men, a ‘basic civil right’” (Loving v. Virginia). The basic civil right for interracial couples to wed was granted, but the damage of racial politics carried over to other oppressed groups, namely members of the queer community, not  recognized to attain civil rights. …

Loving v. Virginia (1967) has been a major precedent for the battle of same-sex marriage, applying the precedent that “Loving refrained from any discussion of how individuals should responsibly choose a spouse” and “Keeping and individual choice free is particularly important if a norm of rationality is misplaced in matters of the heart” (Moran, 2001, p. 13). Matters of the heart aside, the uphill battle for same-sex couples to earn the civil right to marry, adopt, and let alone attain partner benefits has proven to be a slow and steady race for equality. Borrowing from the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement has continued to frame legal and political claims as obstructions in reaching civil rights the United States. …

The Loving Day and Marriage Equality Movements have places in our communities and connections on and off campus. Before her passing, Mildred Loving, of Loving v. Virginia (1967) advocated for full marriage equality for all people, which I leave you with: “I am still not a political person, but I am proud that… my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about” (Loving, 2007, p. 2).

What are your thoughts on this topic?  What, if any, parallels do you see between the two movements?  What perspectives, concerns, questions, etc. do you have about relating interracial marriage and same sex marriage?


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