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To the editor:
In his comments on the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas stated that the Supreme Court must revisit and overrule landmark decisions on contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same sex marriage.
The decisions that he is referring to are Griswold in 1965, Lawrence in 2003, and Obergefell in 2015.
Griswold guaranteed the right of married couples to buy and use contraception. In 2003, Lawrence guaranteed the right of consenting adults to engage in same sex intimacy and in 2015 Obergefell, the right of same sex couples to be married.
Interestingly enough, Thomas does not address another long held marriage ban that of interracial marriages.
Centuries before the same-sex marriage movement, the U.S. government, its constituent states, and their colonial predecessors tackled the issue of “miscegenation,” or mixture of races, starting in 1664, when Maryland enacted a law banning marriage between a black man and a white woman.
Other colonies would follow suit, the Commonwealth of Virginia banned all interracial marriages. White men or women who married blacks or native Americans would be exiled from the colony, in effect, a death sentence.
In 1871, a Missouri Representative, Andrew King, a Democrat made the first of three proposals for a constitutional amendment to ban interracial marriages in all states.
It is widely known that the Deep South banned interracial marriages until 1967, but many other states like California, until 1948, did the same. The landmark case was Loving v. Virginia in 1967, when the Court unanimously struck down all state antimiscegenation laws as a violation of the “equal protection clause” of the 14th amendment.
In 1958, Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Loving, a black woman were awakened in the middle of the night by the police who had come to arrest them for the crime of getting married. Faced with jail or leaving the state, they sued and the case reached the Supreme Court.
Not every state agreed with the Loving decision but it is probably safe to assume that Justice Thomas does agree with the Court’s ruling. A 2011 poll found that a plurality of Mississippi Republicans still support antimiscegenation laws. It took the state of Alabama until the year 2000 to officially legalize interracial marriage.
Mary Kathryn Gepner