Interacial marriage ban and gay marriage ban. Same issue. Same bigotry.

A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.From religioustolerance.org  U.S. interracial marriage:  Laws that restricted marriages on the basis of race were enforced in many states starting with Maryland in the 1660s. By the early 1960’s at least 41 states had enacted such statutes at one time.  By 1967, 16 states still had anti-miscegenation laws in effect.In 1959, Richard and Mildred Loving — an inter-racial married couple who had been married in the District of Columbia a few weeks before — were arrested in Virginia. They pleaded guilty to a felony and were not permitted to be together in the state for 25 years

The judge ruled:

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 show that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The couple appealed their case to the US Supreme Court, who In 1967, unanimously overturned the Virginia law and annulled similar miscegenation laws of 15 other states.  Persons of different races have been able to marry throughout the US ever since.

Some other interesting facts…

bullet Roman Catholic Church: In 1996, the church forbade a church marriage because the husband-to-be was a paraplegic, and thus presumably could not engage in sexual activity and consummate the marriage. The couple was free to be married outside of their faith. This restriction still surfaces from time to time.Most recently in the letter to parliament signed by 50 Australian church leaders including the Presidents of the LCA opposing marriage equality. The theology and logic behind the letter, written by a Roman Catholic,  grows out of this same theological base.
bullet Predominately Muslim countries: In most countries with Muslim majorities, a Muslim woman may not marry a man who is not of the same faith. This has produced some interesting results. During the late 1990s, a university professor in Egypt who considers himself to be a Muslim, wrote a book suggesting that Islam was in need of a reformation. Religious courts determined that he was no longer a Muslim and ordered him and his wife to divorce. They left the country instead.Issues of social justice, religious restrictions and marriage laws are often tied together. When slaves were freed after the American civil war one of the first things they did was to marry their loved one as a sign of the freedoms that were denied them when they were owned. As late as the 1960’s the southern states of America still denied justice to  couples who loved each other through laws that denied interacial couples the right to marry.Recenty, this history has been compared to that of gay and lesbian couples who are denied their right to marry. Some have argued that the links are not there. More than that, they argue that such links are an affront to African American’s who have suffered centuries of prejudice. But the connections between racial injustice and the injustice faced by the LGBT community have been cemented this week by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.) The NAACP was formed in 1909. Its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”.

Listen to NAACP CEO and Board Chair Benjamin Jealous. Make sure you listen to his emotional anecdote at the end.

Just an aside… Benjamin Jealous has obviously overcome a speech impediment to be in a position that  involves a lot of public speaking. You gotta respect people who have the “stuff” required to overcome and acheive. He reminds me of Dr John Koch one of my seminary lecturers. Dr Koch overcame a  speech impediment to not only become a respected preacher in the church but to become a lecturer in public speaking/ preaching.

I remember being in his preaching class. We would have to write and preach a sermon to our classmates. They would listen and then critique…usually very gently and kindly knowing that they would soon be “in the spotlight”. At the end of my sermon i was listening to my classmates kindly critique me but Dr Koch said nothing. When I asked him a question he said…”Oh, I dont know, I stopped listening to you”. He noticed the look of confusion on my face at the same time as the class went quiet. “And I make no apology for that”, he continued. “Your Job was to keep me engaged”. You didnt.”

Lesson learned!

Sometimes you just gotta cut through polite niceties and say what needs to be said. I still remember that man as one of the people that have positively impacted my life.  Thanks Dr Koch.