Arguments Against Interracial Marriage Identical to Arguments Today

Mediaite offers a list of ten quotations and challenges you to figure out which ones were made against interracial marriage and which were made against same-sex marriage. It’s pretty tough because the arguments are almost word for word the same. To wit, a statement from the ruling in State v Jackson, MO in 1883:

“They cannot possibly have any progeny, and such a fact sufficiently justifies those laws which forbid the intermarriage of blacks and whites.”

And this, from Bob Jones University in 1998, speaking of interracial marriage:

“Although there is no verse in the Bible that dogmatically says that races should not intermarry, the whole plan of God as He has dealt with the races down through the ages indicates that interracial marriage is not best for man.”

And especially this, from a brief filed in Loving v Virginia:

“I believe that the tendency to classify all persons who oppose [this type of relationship] as ‘prejudiced’ is in itself a prejudice,” a psychologist said. “Nothing of any significance is gained by such a marriage.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard recently how terribly unfair it is to call those who oppose marriage equality bigots.


  1. marcus says

    You are wrong Ed Brayton! This is all about the childrunz and morulz and ickiness! If Amurica allows teh gheys to marry the cost in new draperies alone will send this country over the brink!
    Over the brink I say!11qq!1!

  2. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard recently how terribly unfair it is to call those who oppose marriage equality bigots.

    Theologically conservative Christians are right to fear the future when it comes to gay marriage. They’ve been fortunate the culture doesn’t develop a sufficient awareness on how misogynistic their churches are towards females. However, I think these Christians rightly perceive they’ll be increasingly exposed as bigots regarding their churches bigoted policies towards gay people and their families, including their children.

    It’s been relatively easy keeping female fundie/evangelicals in their place within the church. But these churches simply have no way of treating gays equally without violating their holy dogma as interpreted now. They can falsely claim they treat gays equally as we observe being asserted, which is frequently followed by these bigots comparing gays to Nazis, drug addicts, or pedophiles as if such analogies help their argument. But that approach is absurd on its face as long as they deprive gays access to gay marriage and membership for unrepentant out gays. Especially as gays increasingly come out of the closet, continue to be culturally mainstreamed, and reveal none of the attributes conservative Christian bigots like Rick Warren use to get gays back in the closet where conservative Christians want gays to retreat. A motivation apparently predicated upon their wish to re-solidify the illusion gays don’t exist (at least in school curricula and in the public); unless it’s convenient to use gays as a whipping boy.

  3. Moggie says

    “They cannot possibly have any progeny, and such a fact sufficiently justifies those laws which forbid the intermarriage of blacks and whites.”

    Wait, what? How could they state this, when “mulatto” was a recognised category in US law at the time?

  4. Phillip IV says

    The eerie parallels are hardly coincidental, and if you widen the subject a bit, you can find many, many more. It seems conservative movements have a marked tendency to hang on to the hollow shells of their political positions way past the point where the substance has rotted away – in the final stage, their arguments in defense are usually down to an “It’s always been that way” combined with completely baseless claims about the inevitable damage a change in policy would allegedly result in.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard recently how terribly unfair it is to call those who oppose marriage equality bigots.

    They really feel it’s basically unfair to them. After all, they latched on to their opinions back when they were socially acceptable, even mandated, and just never changed them. No matter how everyone else moves on, they still feel they’re entitled to their opinion being treated as an acceptable, mainstream opinion from historical precedence.

  5. monimonika says

    Is there a quote, in any court documents/notable media from back when interracial marriage was being opposed, that says that “blacks have the same rights as whites to marry within their own race”? I thought there was, but I couldn’t find it with my weak Google-fu.

    I’m guessing this argument originated as a response to the anti-SSM argument that “gays have the same marriage rights as straights to marry someone of the opposite sex” rather than as an independent argument against interracial marriage, but I want to be sure.

  6. Randomfactor says

    Fifty years from now, there will be a President of the United States who is either the product of, or a member of, a same-sex marriage.

  7. says

    “How noble the law, in its majestic equality, that both the rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the streets, sleeping under bridges, and stealing bread!” ~ Anatole France (1894)

  8. Sastra says

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard recently how terribly unfair it is to call those who oppose marriage equality bigots.

    I think they feel betrayed because the usual deference given to stupid religious beliefs has its limits. When someone says “my religion will not allow me to touch a light switch on Saturday” or “it is against my faith to eat pork” the social convention is to nod respectfully and give it a pass. They are doing something noble. They are living up to a commitment. Any rational argument against whatever they do or believe is intolerant. This is sacred stuff. They’re not just ‘on gool’ — they’re admirable.

    “As a Christian I believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and it is wrong to work on the Sabbath.”

    “Well — good for you! I so admire the self-discipline and humble attitude involved in being a person of faith.”

    “And it is also part of my Christian faith that homosexuals are an abomination.”


    Hey, wait … THAT wasn’t supposed to happen! Where’s their automatic respect? Where’s their praise for believing sincerely? Where’s their cookie? Unfair.

  9. steve84 says

    Yes. Entire court decisions were based on that. Pace v Alabama most notably. See the Loving v Virginia reference to it:

    “The State finds support for its “equal application” theory in the decision of the Court in Pace v. Alabama, 106 U.S. 583 (1883). In that case, the Court upheld a conviction under an Alabama statute forbidding adultery or fornication between a white person and a Negro which imposed a greater penalty than that of a statute proscribing similar conduct by members of the same race. The Court reasoned that the statute could not be said to discriminate against Negroes because the punishment for each participant in the offense was the same.”

    More from the Loving case directly:

    “the State argues that the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause, as illuminated by the statements of the Framers, is only that state penal laws containing an interracial element as part of the definition of the offense must apply equally to whites and Negroes in the sense that members of each race are punished to the same degree.Thus, the State contends that, because its miscegenation statutes punish equally both the white and the Negro participants in an interracial marriage, these statutes, despite their reliance on racial classifications, do not constitute an invidious discrimination based upon race.”

    Also, does this sound familiar to anyone:

    “the question of constitutionality would thus become whether there was any rational basis for a State to treat interracial marriages differently from other marriages. On this question, the State argues, the scientific evidence is substantially in doubt and, consequently, this Court should defer to the wisdom of the state legislature in adopting its policy of discouraging interracial marriages.”

    Almost word for word the same BS as today. Unfortunately, the modern Supreme Court are a bunch of cowards and they will indeed defer to the states and let them discriminate for another 20 years or so.

  10. dingojack says

    Sastra – but not eating pork, touching light switches on Saturdays etc. are stupid rules one imposes on one self that have no effect on others. Bigotry is an attitude one imposes on others in the ‘out group’ to make them feel inferior, wrong and excluded, which affects them greatly. Big difference.

  11. says


    Dingojack, goofy religious rules that are ONLY imposed on oneself are fine. Many of them are not limited to the believer–for instance “Sunday Blue Laws”.

  12. alwayscurious says

    @15 Let the ignorant follow their misguided paths on the individual level because it’s too much work to convince them otherwise on every minor point. But when people come out to ban lightswitches everywhere, that’s the time to step up to the plate and let them know in no uncertain terms that they are wrong. Sunday blue laws are the perfect example of what happens when we let religion externalize norms that should stay internal. It’s also a reflection on our pathetic ability to remove legal relics decades after our cultural consensus has shifted.

  13. drizzt says

    @14 Dingo, I’m pretty sure Sastra forgot to put the funny tags on his/her post… @11, you know anything without a :) in it is considered serious :)

    and now commenting on the post, I second Modus @4… «1998» ? Wasn’t that the place that considered interracially holding hands a problem until something like 2003 or 4 ? I can see them embrace interracial kissing this year and sex perhaps around 2020… marriage we’ll all be dead by then…

  14. monimonika says

    Thank you to Randomfactor and steve84! I would never have found this stuff on my own.

    So instead of everyone having the same supposedly-positive rights (therefore constitutional), it was that everyone suffered the supposedly-same bans/consequences/limits (therefore constitutional).


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