The Blurring of the Lines: Children and Bans on Interrracial Unions and Same-Sex Marriages

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Gay & Lesbian, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2009-11-25 18:56Z by Steven

The Blurring of the Lines: Children and Bans on Interrracial Unions and Same-Sex Marriages

Fordham Law Review
May 2008
Volume 76, Number 6
pages 2733-2770

Carlos A. Ball, Professor of Law and Judge Frederick Lacey Scholar
Rutgers University School of Law, Newark

When Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter drove from their hometown of Central Point, Virginia, to Washington, D.C., on June 2, 1958, in order to get married, Mildred was several months pregnant Later that year—a few weeks before the couple pled guilty to having violated Virginia’s antimiscegenation law—Mildred gave birth to a baby girl. Richard and Mildred had two more children, a son born in 1959 and a second daughter born a year after that.

The legal commentary on Loving v. Virginia usually does not discuss the fact that the couple had children. In some ways, this is not surprising given that their status as parents was not directly relevant to either their violation of the Virginia statute, or to their subsequent constitutional challenge to that law. Concerns about the creation of interracial children, however, were one of the primary reasons why antimiscegenation laws were first enacted in colonial America and why they were later adopted and retained by many states. It is not possible, in other words, to understand fully the historical roots and purposes of antimiscegenation laws without an assessment of the role that concerns related to interracial children played in their enactment and enforcement.

The offspring of interracial unions were threatening to whites primarily because they blurred the lines between what many of them understood to be a naturally superior white race and a naturally inferior black race. As long as there was a clear distinction between the two racial categories—in other words, as long as the two categories could be thought to be mutually exclusive—then the hierarchical racial regimes represented first by slavery, and later by legal segregation, could be more effectively defended. The existence of interracial children destabilized and threatened the understanding of racial groups as essentialized categories that existed prior to, and independent of, human norms and understandings. To put it differently, interracial children showed that racial categories, seemingly distinct and immutable, were instead highly malleable. Therefore, from a white supremacy perspective, it was important to try to deter the creation of interracial children as much as possible, and the ban on interracial marriage was a crucial means to attaining that goal.

Although it is possible to disagree on how much progress we have made as a society in de-essentializing race, it is (or it should be) clear that an essentialized and static understanding of race is both descriptively and normatively inconsistent with the multicultural American society in which we live. In fact, it would seem that we have made more progress in deessentializing race than we have in de-essentializing sex/gender. One of the best examples of this difference in progress is that while we no longer, as a legal matter, think of the intersection of race and marriage in essentialized ways, legal arguments against same-sex marriage are still very much grounded in an essentialized (and binary) understanding of sex/gender.

The conservative critique of same-sex marriage is premised on the idea that men and women are different in essential and complementary ways and that these differences justify the denial of marriage to same-sex couples.  One of the most important of these differences relate to the raising of children. The reasoning—which is found in the arguments of conservative commentators, in the briefs of states defending same-sex marriage bans, and in some of the judicial opinions upholding those bans—is that there is something unique to women as mothers and something (separately) unique to men as fathers that makes different-sex couples able to parent in certain valuable ways that same-sex couples cannot.

These arguments continue to resonate legally and politically because our laws and culture continue to think about sex/gender in essentialized and binary ways. In fact, one of the reasons why same-sex marriage is so threatening to so many is that the raising of children by same-sex couples blurs the boundaries of seemingly preexisting and static sex/gender categories in the same way that the progeny of interracial unions blur seemingly preexisting and static racial categories…

Read the entire article here.

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Visceral Cosmopolitanism: Gender, Culture and the Normalisation of Difference

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2009-11-25 02:04Z by Steven

Visceral Cosmopolitanism: Gender, Culture and the Normalisation of Difference

Berg Publishers
September 2007
224 pages, bibliog., index
Paperback ISBN: 9781845202439
Hardback ISBN: 9781845202422
Ebook ISBN: 9781847883438

Mica Nava, Professor of Cultural Studies
University of East London

Cultural theorist Mica Nava makes an original and significant contribution to the study of cosmopolitanism by exploring everyday English urban cosmopolitanism and foregrounding the gendered, imaginative and empathetic aspects of positive engagement with cultural and racial difference.

By looking at a wide range of texts, events and biographical narratives, she traces cosmopolitanism from its marginal status at the beginning of the twentieth century to its relative normalisation today. Case studies include the promotion of cosmopolitanism by Selfridges before the first world war; relationships between white English women and ‘other’ men—Jews and black GIs—during the 1930s and 1940s; literary, cinematic and social science representations of migrants in postcolonial Britain; and Diana and Dodi’s interracial romance in the 1990s. In the final chapter, the author draws on her own complex family history to illustrate the contemporary cosmopolitan London experience.

Scholars have tended to ignore the oppositional cultures of antiracism and social inclusivity. This groundbreaking study redresses this imbalance and offers a sophisticated account of the uneven history of vernacular cosmopolitanism.

Table of Contents

List of figures

Chapter 1 – Cosmopolitanism, Everyday Culture and Structures of Feeling: The Intellectual Framework of the Book

Chapter 2 – The Allure of Difference: Selfridges, the Russian Ballet and the Tango
Chapter 3 – ‘The Big Shop Controversy’: Ideological Communities and the Chesterton-Selfridge Dispute

Chapter 4 – The Unconscious and Others: Inclusivity, Jews and the Eroticisation of Difference
Chapter 5 – White Women and Black Men: The Negro as Signifier of Modernity in Wartime Britain

Chapter 6 – Thinking Internationally, Thinking Sexually: Race in Postwar Fiction, Film and Social Science
Chapter 7 – Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed: Romance, Race and the Reconfiguration of the Nation

Chapter 8 – A Love Song to our Mongrel Selves: Cosmopolitan Habitus and the Ordinariness of Difference


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