Virginia politicians should not be lecturing Maryland's governor

August 18, 2011

There is a very good reason why a Virginia delegate should not be lecturing Gov. Martin O'Malley on his support for same-sex marriage ("On marriage, O'Malley should heed O'Brien," Aug 16). His appeal to lofty ideals such as natural law and even Thomas Jefferson ring hollow when one considers that it was Virginia which produced the test case of Loving v. Virginia 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

The Loving plaintiffs were challenging the Virginia miscegenation statute (called the Racial Integrity Act in Jim Crow parlance), which prevented all interracial marriage. Although the couple in Loving had gotten married in the District of Columbia (which had no miscegenation statutes at the time), they were apprehended by vigilant Virginia policemen who literally charged into their marital bedroom and cited them for two crimes, namely, 1) being married and 2) having sex. Their marriage certificate on the wall did not prevent a prosecution.

Somehow, the lofty ideals of natural law or Thomas Jefferson did not prevent such an abominable statute from being in existence until 1967.

But the Supreme Court did, and the only question in my mind is what took them so long. The miscegenation statutes were severe so as to prevent marriage even if an individual were of a mixed race. The Loving plaintiffs prevailed because they proved among other things that certain people of mixed race were effectively prevented from marrying anybody. Where was the Roman church when miscegenation statutes were in vogue? I don't think they were denying the sacrament to Southern politicians the way the interfering delegate from Virginia is recommending an unshriven state for Governor O'Malley.

Politicians from the august Dominion state shouldn't be throwing stones across the Potomac considering their undeniably abusive treatment of mixed race people who happened to love each other.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

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