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Marriage Arguments

More about Loving v Virginia

Card image from Civio™ - A Civil Rights Game
from Reach and Teach

Marriage Arguments.
Script by Derrick Kikuchi 3/25/2004

Source: Script based and adapted from the recorded transcript in "May it Please the Court", Edited by Peter Irons and Stephanie Guitton, pg 278-289, New Press, NY, 1993

Attorney1: These laws void such marriages. If this couple were to go back to their home state (and they are in fact there right now), they are subject to immediate arrest under the fornication statute, and the lewd and lascivious cohabitation statute. And, more than that, there are many, many other problems for this couple. Their children would be declared bastards under that state's decisions. They themselves lose their rights for insurance, social security, and for numerous other things to which they're entitled.
Attorney2: Nevertheless, these are laws that protect us from dangers this state has a right to apprehend from these types of marriages. The reason for banning these marriages stands on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage, or the minimum age at which people may marry, and the prevention of the marriage of people who are mentally incompetent. The state has an interest in marriage… in maximizing the number of stable marriages. It is not infrequent that children of these marriages are referred to as "victims" or "martyrs".
Judge: There are people who have the same feeling about marriage between two people of different religions. But because that may be true, would you think that the state could prohibit people from getting married based on their religious beliefs?
Attorney2: I think that the evidence in support of prohibiting these marriages is stronger than the evidence for prohibiting interfaith marriage. Expert opinion is that these marriages are inadvisable because - and I quote - "They most frequently, if not solely, are entered into under present-day circumstances by people who have a rebellious attitude toward society, self-hatred, neurotic tendencies, immaturity, and other destructive psychological factors."
Judge: Of course, you don't know what is cause, and what is effect. Presuming your statistics are correct, isn't it possible that one reason that marriages of this kind are sometimes unsuccessful is the very existence of the laws that are in issue here, and the attitudes that those laws reflect?
Narrator: The year is 1967. The issue is interracial marriage - specifically, whether a state can legally prevent a white man from marrying a black woman. The arguments you are hearing are based on actual dialog from the Supreme Court case Loving versus Virginia.
Attorney1: The language of the Fourteenth Amendment is broad and it is sweeping. At its very heart is equal protection of the fundamental right to marry, subject to only the same limitations. And that's the right of Richard and Mildred Loving to wake up in the morning, or to go to sleep at night, knowing that the sheriff will not be knocking on their door or shining a light in their face in the privacy of their bedroom. It is the right of Richard and Mildred Loving to go to sleep at night, knowing that if they don't wake up in the morning, their children would still have the right to inherit their name and property. It is the right of Richard and Mildred Loving to be secure in knowing that if one of them dies, the survivor would have the right to social security benefits. Currently, all of these rights are denied to them.
Narrator: On June 12th, 1967, ten days after Richard and Mildred Loving celebrated their 9th anniversary, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the constitutionally protected right of Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black woman, to be married.

We hear many of these same arguments today with respect to same-sex couples.

Read more about Loving v Virginia

(c)Copyright Reach and Teach, 2004 View Printable Version



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