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Of Mixed Marriages and Marriage Equality
[Photo: Mildred and Richard Loving, 1967. Richard was sentenced in the state of Virginia to a year in prison for being in a mixed marriage.]
Of Mixed Marriages and Marriage Equality
By Steven Argue
On this day in History: South African Apartheid Begins with the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, 1949
On June 29th, 1949 the racist capitalist ruling class of South Africa passed the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949. It prohibited mixed marriages between the four narrowly defined "races" of South Africa. Implementation was carried out by requiring people to register under one of those four races. These laws were used to segregate the Black majority and reduce them to a position of super-exploitation by the capitalist class. Due to working class rebellion against Apartheid Laws, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act was repealed under the racist presidency of P.W. Botha in 1985.
In the United States it took until 1967 for the Supreme Court to finally force the legalization of mixed marriages in all states. This too was under mass public pressure. This 1967 Supreme Court decision ended laws against mixed relationships in 17 states. It also overturned the one year prison sentence of Richard Loving for being in a mixed marriage in the state of Virginia. At the trial that convicted Richard Loving, trial judge Leon M. Bazile stated:
“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 marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
Today similar religious stupidity is cited to argue that god intended marriage to only be between a man and a woman.
Most states in the United States today prohibit marriages between same sex-couples. Yet, a mass movement for equality is also forcing the ruling class and some of its politicians to change their positions. For example, President Obama changed his position in 2012 stating that he supports the right to same sex marriage.
This week, on June 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned California’s ban on same sex marriage, but left intact laws that ban same sex marriage in 35 other states.
Besides keeping marriage equality illegal for most of the country, the next day the Supreme Court overturned the 1965 Voting Rights Act that effectively gave American Blacks in the South the right to vote. Violations of the Voting Rights Act were a major issue in the 2000 elections when Blacks and Latinos were purposely and illegally excluded from voting in Florida.
With the Supreme Court’s ruling, California now joins twelve U.S. states and the District of Colombia that now allow same sex marriage. Yet, this right is still outlawed in most U.S. states. Presently the countries that are ahead of the United States by legalizing same-sex marriage are Uruguay, Argentina, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal.
The American LGBT movement that started with the Stonewall Riots, buoyed in its beginnings by the movement against the U.S. imperialist war in Vietnam, has made major headway. No longer are Gays and Lesbians routinely rounded-up by police vice-squads, their names published in the newspaper the next day so that they'd be fired from their jobs. No longer are people routinely sent to mental institutions and tortured for simply being LGBT. Yet, most states still don't even allow same-sex marriage, the Equal Rights Amendment hasn't even been passed, and a bill to stop bullying was defeated in Minnesota simply because its protections would have included LGBT youth.
In the struggle for many basic rights, from LGBT, racial, and gender equality to guaranteed healthcare, housing, education, full employment, a healthy environment, and ending imperialism, the United States still has a long ways to go. In fact, on many questions we're going backwards, and most of these changes will never happen without a socialist revolution led by a proletarian party that acts as a tribune of the people, standing up for the most oppressed in society. The Revolutionary Tendency is committed to building such a party.
-Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency
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