Normal? Never seen it
In a poll of Mississippi voters, nearly half of the registered Republicans said they thought interracial marriage should be outlawed.
This poll is not from the Civil Rights era. It is from last April.
Last night, HBO premiered a documentary about an important yet relatively unknown couple, Mildred and Richard Loving. In June 1958, a Caucasian Richard and an African-American Mildred, married in Washington D.C.
A month into the Loving’s marriage, police invaded their home for violating Virginia’s "Racial Integrity Act," a 1924 law that banned interracial marriage.
"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay, and red,” Leon Bazile, judge for the Caroline County Circuit Court, said when he convicted them on felony charges. “And he placed them on separate continents. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
The thoughtful judge (note my sarcasm) agreed to a compromise – he would throw out Richard and Mildred’s one-year prison sentence if they moved to Washington D.C., which is 90 miles away from their family in Central Point, Virginia.
For five years, the Lovings snuck in and out of Virginia to visit family. By 1963, a non-radical Mildred, who desperately wanted to return to her rural home of Virginia, sought the help of Attorney General Robert Kennedy. The Loving’s case reached the Supreme Court in 1967.
Although Richard and Mildred did not attend their court hearings, Richard asked his lawyer to relay a message to the judge.
"Tell the court I love my wife, and it's just unfair that I can't live with her in Virginia," he said.
Virginia’s attorney general questioned the longevity of an interracial marriage (if only he saw the 2012 divorce rate). Additionally, he worried about how the relationship affected the children.
Forty-five years ago, the judge’s notion was normal. Three years ago, this verdict sounds outlandish – except in Louisiana, where Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish’s Eighth Ward, refused to marry an interracial couple.
"I’m not a racist. I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children…,” Bardwell said. “I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves. In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer."
If Bardwell is so concerned about saving kids from unhealthy parents, he should move to south Florida, where local therapists’ offices are filled with one-race problems.
Children have served as a scapegoat for callous judgments for far too long. In the 1960s they were affected by race. Today, they’re affected by sexual orientation.
In a conversation about gay marriage last week, a friend said that he thought gay couples should not be allowed to adopt because their children will be teased. I don’t know about you, but if I passed from foster home to foster home, being picked on would be the least of my worries.
In 2012, my friend’s opinion is normal. But it leaves me wondering, what is the universal and precise definition of a normal relationship? If anyone has seen one, please let me know.