Opinions on interracial dating
The ACLU appealed the Lovings’ conviction, arguing interracial marriage bans contradicted the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.
Despite this line of argument, lower courts upheld the verdict because, as one jurist wrote, “the fact that [Almighty God] separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” After multiple appeals, the case reached the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Earl Warren’s opinion for the unanimous court declared marriage to be “one of the ‘basic civil rights of man’…To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications…is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty.” Warren further ruled that interracial marriage bans were designed expressly “to maintain White Supremacy.” The court’s decision not only struck down an 80-year precedent set in the case Pace v. In the decades that followed, the nation’s views on interracial marriage have undergone a slow sea change.
Editor's Note: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Loving v.
Virginia case that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
White men had sexual access to all women and exclusive access to white women.
Interracial sex, so long as it remained out-of-wedlock and occurred between white men and black women, merited little legal or social consequence.
Fifty years later, it seems absurd to most of us that such laws ever existed in the first place.
But, as historian Jessica Viñas-Nelson explains, the fear of interracial marriage has been at the center of America's racial anxiety for a very long time.
In fact, most Americans now claim to celebrate the precepts behind Loving and the case has become an icon of equality and of prejudice transcended.This first marriage obtained mythic portions long before Disney remade the story and even shaped Virginia’s laws on interracial marriage.Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 codified individuals as white only if they had “no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian,” except for those who had one-sixteenth or less blood from American Indians—the so-called “Pocahontas exception”—a concession to some elite families who claimed lineage from Rolfe and Pocahontas’s only child.These laws also set into motion America’s peculiar system of racial classification: hypodescent.
Americans would be classified not according to the degree of mixture they contained but by the total absence or presence of blackness.
Children would inherit the social status of their mother, not their father, meaning the children of slave women would be born slaves regardless of the father’s status.