A recent Gallup Poll measuring public opinion of interracial marriages is everything wrong with opinion polling on people’s rights. Axios reported that approval for interracial marriages was at an all-time high, with 94% of Americans supporting the unions.
Axios also noted a Pew Research study found that in 2019, interracial couples made up 11% of all married couples and 19% of newlyweds.
Gallup began asking the question in 1958, nine years before the landmark Loving v. Virginia case struck down anti-miscegenation laws. But why the pollster is still asking this question 55 years later remains unclear.
Wanting to take a temperature check on society makes sense, but Gallup concludes that because American attitudes have shifted, it correlates to meaningful change. But a Gallup article interpreting the findings did acknowledge that people simultaneously thought civil rights for Black people have not improved and new civil rights laws are needed.
Despite greater acceptance of interracial marriage, racism is still present in American society today. As a July CNN article pointed out, other indicators show white Americans still believe that having too many Black people in their neighborhoods will decrease property values. The article also noted the reaction of white parents to school diversity, with some withdrawing their students if too many Black children enroll, connecting diversity with diminished academic quality.
On the other hand, the poll could be a data point amid conservative efforts to roll back various civil rights protections. There is a feeling that no one is safe from the tyranny of elected bodies who don’t represent the will and needs of the people.
Earlier this spring, Republican Sen. Mike Braun claimed he misunderstood a question but initially suggested the courts should reconsider the legality of interracial marriage. The Politico reporter was very clear in asking Braun if he thought the issue of interracial marriage should be left to the states, to which the senator replied yes.
In the immediate aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, speculation arose as to what other rights could be on the chopping block after the conservative majority dismantled federal protections for the right to abortion. Almost three months later, medical providers and patients scramble to make sense of the new landscape.
Fundamental rights like marriage and bodily autonomy should never be left to the whims of the states. Marriage and bodily autonomy aren’t the same as whether one pays tolls to ride on a highway or when children start school.
This may not seem like a big deal for those without their right to marry, questioned or challenged. But there are particular benefits afforded by law to married couples that could be denied if different states got to pick and choose which teams were allowed to form a union.
The jury is still out on whether interracial marriages help improve understanding between the races and increase overall equality. For example, Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni have not been at the helm of a new era of racial harmony.
But it is clear that leaving the right intact and untouched, like making decisions related to bodily autonomy, is for the good of all people and society.