Tar Heels Do It Again

May 9, 2012
Posted by Jay Livingston

Is North Carolina once again lining up on the wrong side of history?

The citizens of North Carolina voted yesterday to prohibit gay marriage.  It wasn’t the first time North Carolina put marriage in its constitution.*

The text of 1875 constitution says that interracial marriages are “banned forever.”  Not quite. The ban lasted 92 years.  When North Carolina drafted a new constitution in 1971, the US Supreme Court had already declared state intermarriage laws unconstitutional. 

Will it take that long for the Court to take a similar view of laws banning same-sex marriage?  That depends on who appoints the justices.  But I suspect that public opinion will turn much sooner, even in North Carolina.  In 20-30 twenty years, most Americans will look at these laws the way we now look at those 19th-century anti-miscegenation statutes that survived until 1967 – with the binge-drinker’s  morning-after sense of embarrassment.  “Did I really do those things?” – as though the denial of rights to whole categories of people had been unintentional, not really harmful, and in retrospect maybe even kind of amusing. 

* I found this image at the Think Progress page on Twitter (here).  It can surely now be found in many other places.

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