Interracial or same-sex marriage: same core civil-rights issues

We’re in the midst of Gay Pride Month, and we have much to celebrate and much yet to achieve.

In May 2008, California became only the second state following Massachusetts to allow same-sex marriage. Currently, 26 states have constitutional amendments stating that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. And 43 states have statutes restricting marriage to two people of the opposite sex.

When I consider this issue, I think of Mildred Loving, the black woman who had to leave her home state of Virginia to get married to a white man. To avoid a jail term after their return and arrest, they were forced to leave the state again.

Before 1964, 17 states prohibited men and women of different races from marrying.

But the Lovings kept fighting — all the way to the Supreme Court.

And on June 12, 1967, the court ruled in their favor and outlawed miscegenation laws. The court said they had a fundamental equal protection right to marry across race.

Mildred Loving, who died this May 2, simply wanted to be able to marry the person she loved.

That’s all that gays and lesbians want, too.

Fortunately same-sex couples are no longer arrested for being together. But the fundamental right to marry eludes us in 48 states,

The prohibitions against marriage based on race and same sex are the same core civil-rights issues. It is a fundamental equal protection right.

May California and Massachusetts lead the way.

Happy Gay Pride Month.

Akilah Monifa is a lesbian of African descent and a freelance writer based in Oakland, Calif., where she lives with her partner and their two children. She writes about how race and sexual orientation intersect with politics, entertainment, and pop culture. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.