Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Massachusetts Takes a Step Towards Erasing a Shameful Remnant of the Past

Today the Massachusetts Senate voted to repeal a 1913 law designed to prevent out-of-state interracial couples from marrying. The law was all but forgotten until Mitt Romney resurrected it in order to discriminate against GLBT people.

From Boston.com
The bill, which had the support of Senate President Therese Murray, passed with no objections on a voice vote. Proponents of the repeal called the 1913 law archaic and discriminatory.

"There are very few laws on the books that I can say that I'm ashamed that they're on the books," said State Senator Mark Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat. He said he opposed the law because of the "immorality of discrimination."

"This is a very simple law, contrived in shame, and it exists in shame and we ought to wipe it off the books," he said.

"The 1913 law is a shadow, a terrible shadow. It represents a segregationist past that is best put to rest and put to rest quickly," said Senator Harriette Chandler, a Worcester Democrat.

The law originated when lawmakers in many states were trying to prevent interracial couples from crossing state lines to marry. It fell into obscurity for decades. But it received new attention in 2004, when Republican Governor Mitt Romney invoked it after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts to prevent out-of-state gay and lesbian couples from marrying here and forcing their home states to consider recognizing Massachusetts marriage law.