Racism, Eugenics, and the Marriage License

I do remember my wedding day. I remember how beautiful my wife looked walking down that aisle towards me, and, yes, I cried. My parents had not been remiss in their duties to instill in me a full knowledge of the gravity and sacred responsibility for this new voyage my wife and I were about embark upon and as a result, I was scared to death. I also remember the moment my bride and I walked to a decorated little podium and there signed our marriage license just like many other couples have done countless times in our Nation, but knowing what I know now, I would have never consented to having that moment in our ceremony.

The marriage license is a dark and horrible over-reach from government with its roots in racism and the eugenics movement. Its genesis comes from the anti-miscegenation laws, which were brought over from England. Such laws prevented intermarriage between races in an effort to maintain racial purity.

These types of laws were more often used to target the intermarriage between whites and blacks than any other as blacks were the prime target of eugenic scientists and believers, who were convinced negro blood was inferior and weakened the human race. This horrible belief system fomented in our society until culminating with Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia in 1967.

Until the 1920’s, the concept of a marriage license was non-existent. Simply put, the marriage license was created to prevent whites from marrying blacks. Government agents were gatekeepers or agents to prevent the intermingling of “dysgenic unions” by which “the superior groups (whites) risks polluting their germ plasms with inferior hereditary traits.”

Lothrop Stoddard, a lawyer and eugenics expert, speaking in support of the Virginia Racial Integrity Act in 1924 before the Virginia legislature said this, “White race purity is the cornerstone of our civilization. Its mongrelization with non-white blood, particularly with Negro blood, would spell the downfall of our civilization. This is a matter of both national and racial life and death, and no efforts would be spared to guard against the greatest of all perils-the perils of miscegenation.”

The Virginia Racial Integrity Act would be the law overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia. Still there was another eugenics influence that found its manifestation in the marriage license, the required blood test. This was done to establish whether there was enough percentage of “impure” blood in the person to constitute them as black. The ratio would vary from state to state. Amazingly enough, some states still require a blood test, although the claim is that it is now to test for sexual disease.

So what is your point many may ask? In my faith, it is our belief that my marriage to my wife is a sacred covenant between us, bound before and by God Almighty. Many religions have similar sacraments. Others view marriage devoid of religious sacrament but a necessary fundamental structure to the building of a society. Some, especially as of late, view marriage as a right to be obtained as an expression of equality.

Each of these views has merit for some, while others may hold strong reasons to contend against the establishment of said beliefs. All point to the Constitution as the validation for their marriage rite. The bridge by which all these contending beliefs attack each other seems to be the Marriage License.

As an activist who has vigorously defended the rites of traditional marriage and a railed against the acceptance of gay marriage, I present this proposition. Could the growing cries for the abolition of the marriage license be the solution by which we all can live peaceably and not have our rights trampled by our rites? The very existence of the many and varied marriage traditions should be an indication that the governmental one size fits all approach does not work.

And why do we need governmental approval to marry in the first place? Should a couple wish to marry and covenant before God and their church, let them within the rituals of their faith. If a couple prefers their marriage be simply a legal document witnessed by friends, let them. If a couple wishes to have a document with a government approval, let them, but let’s do away with this horrible concept of government control on who can and cannot marry and thereby providing the vehicle by which groups from all sides can attack others all in the name of love’s rights and rites.

It really comes down to whom or what do you believe your God is? Whom do you honor? If your beliefs do not perpetrate violence upon your fellow citizens, our Constitution declares you are entitled to them, anywhere.

Have I changed my beliefs on marriage? No. Do I still believe the abandonment of our traditional marriage structure will have and has had dire societal repercussions? Yes. Are there many that disagree with me? Obviously.

As of late, I am convinced that there are factions on the many sides of this divide that prefer the argument rather than the solution. They relish the utilization of the hammer of government to target and eliminate their opponents. From targeting a florist for her religious beliefs to Christians abandoning their religious beliefs to hate the “sinner” rather than the “sin”, we have forgotten the value of live and let live. In the marriage debate as I see it, we will never see the merit of the arguments come to fruition peacefully unless we abolish the marriage license.

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