This research guide explores interracial marriage and its implications today using:
Additionally, this guide briefly addresses same-sex marriage.
Although anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional in the United States, Equal Protection and the fundamental right to marry are relevant arguments made in the fight for same-sex marriage. While Loving v. Virginia addressed interracial marriage, the same equality arguments can be found in cases that support same-sex marriage. In United States v. Windsor, the United States Supreme Court draws from Loving v. Virginia stating that "[s]tate laws defining and regulating marriage, of course, must respect the constitutional rights of persons." (United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675, 2691 (2013)).
Marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Included in that right is the right to interracial marriage, protected by the 14th Amendment under the Equal Protection Clause. Although interracial marriage is a more common occurrence in the 21st century, it is important to keep in mind that laws making interracial marriage illegal were held to be unconstitutional less than 50 years ago.
This guide explores the landmark case of Loving v. Virginia, which officially made anti-miscegenation laws - laws against interracial marriage - unconstitutional. In addition to the Loving case, it also follows pre- and post-Loving cases dealing with the fundamental right to marriage, as well as the implications interracial marriage now has on same-sex marriage.
Prior to the landmark United States Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, anti-miscegenation laws existed throughout the United States. Miscegenation is the mixing of races, whether through marriage, cohabitation, or sexual relations. Anti-miscegenation laws were aimed at eliminating interracial relationships, making it illegal for people of different races to marry. They were originally enforced during the times of the colonies and continued, constitutionally, until 1967 when Loving v. Virginia was decided.
This was not only a practice in the United States, but in other areas of the world as well. In Nazi Germany in 1935, the government declared that marriage between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans was illegal under the Nuremberg Laws. Similarly, during the years of apartheid in South Africa, there were bans on interracial marriage through their Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, passed in 1949, which outlawed marriages between whites and non-whites.