Thursday, May 22, 2008

Same-Sex and Interracial Marriage Find Common Ground

In the 1948 case of Perez v. Sharp, the California Supreme Court struck down a ban on interracial marriage.

Chief Justice Ronald M. George quoted from the Perez decision three times while the current court was ruling on the legality of a ban on same-sex marriage. It seemed that the chief justice accepted that the struggle for same-sex marriage closely paralleled that of the struggle to legalize interracial marriages, reports the New York Times. When the California Supreme Court majority found Thursday that same-sex couples had a right to marry, they cited Perez.

Opponents of same-sex marriage are uncomfortable with the analogy, reports the New York Times. Monte Stewart, president of the Marriage Law Foundation, says the parallel only works on the surface. "Marriage in its deep logic has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the union of a man and a woman," said Stewart.

The Perez decision came long before the rest of the nation started desegregation, as another six years would pass before Brown v. Board of Education, where the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregated schools violated the Constitution. Thirteen years would pass before the U.S. Supreme Court would also strike down bans on interracial marriage in the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia, according to the New York Times.

As the Perez decision occurred so long before the rest of the nation's attempts at equality, the history of interracial marriage restrictions can be viewed in two ways. The Perez court can be said to have started the wave of equality with an early decision in the right direction. Or, it can be said that the court overrode the democratic process in making a decision most of the country was not yet willing to embrace.

The parallels will continue to be drawn as the analysis of the current court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage continues.

Source: The New York Times

1 comment:

Sabina said...

"Marriage in its deep logic has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the union of a man and a woman," said Stewart. I couldn't agree more to that!