Some years ago, and this just popped into my head yesterday, for some reason, I saw an elderly couple of American tourists holding hands on a street in Dublin. Both were in their late sixties, I’d estimate, and the woman seemed slightly more infirm than the man. But what really struck me was the tenderness he showed towards her as she struggled to open a door into a shop, he making sure she got through and her thanking him with a kiss on the cheek. It seemed to me (and I could be wrong, of course) that they loved each other quite a bit.
Yet here’s the thing: she was black, and he was white. Now, who knows what their history was? They could have met in a retirement home late in life, or they could be married, I can only speculate.
But one thing is certain: when they were young and growing up, it was highly unlikely that either thought they’d end up in their later years with someone of another race. Not only was it not socially “done”, but in some states it was actually illegal.
The fact is, many of the arguments against interracial marriage are the same arguments used against same-sex marriage. That it is a breach with tradition. That is will somehow damage the institution itself, and that children raised in such an environment will be bullied. Above all, the core objection of many is that they don’t like seeing other people doing it. In the same way they didn’t like the idea of President Obama’s parents, they don’t like the idea of Adam & Steve.
Yet where are all the segregationists today who argued against equal rights for blacks and opposed interracial marriage? Where are the “we told you sos!”? They can’t all be dead. Where are their political descendants on platforms denouncing interracial marriage as an experiment that has failed and should now be reversed?
The truth is, they’ve shut the hell up and hope that nobody brings it up, followers of a social Voldemort who would just prefer if we all forget that the unpleasantness ever occurred.
That’s what surprises me about same-sex marriage opponents. Surely they can see the lay of the demographic land? 20 years from now we will see elderly gay couples sharing their golden years together, and where will the opponents of gay marriage be then? Hoping that nobody kept all those clips and newspaper articles of them opposing the tide of social evolution, because that’ll be seriously embarrassing.