Record-High 94% Of Americans Approve Of Interracial Marriage, Up From 4% In 1958, Poll Finds

By Tommy Beer, Forbes Staff

Topline

Support for marriage between Black and white people in the United States is nearly universal, with an all-time high 94% of Americans saying they approve, according to a poll released by Gallup on Friday.

In the summer of 1967, a total of 16 states had not yet repealed anti-miscegenation laws that prohibited interracial marriages. getty

Key Facts

According to Gallup, which has been surveying American's views on interracial marriage for more than six decades, the previous high was an 87% approval rate in 2013.

When Gallup first asked the question, in 1958, just 4% approved and 94% disapproved.

In previous decades, there were significant regional and generational differences of opinion.

As recently as 1991, only 33% of adults in the South approved of interracial marriage; that number stood at 93% in Thursday's poll.

Similarly, only 27% of Americans over the age of 50 supported interracial marriage in 1991 — now more than 90% do.

The poll was conducted from July 6-21 among 1,007 adults in all 50 states.

Key Background:

In 1958, the same year Gallup first queried Americans on their beliefs regarding interracial marriage, Mildred Jeter, a Black woman, exchanged wedding vows with Richard Loving, a white man, in Washington, D.C., where interracial marriage was legal. However, when the couple returned home to Caroline County, Virginia, they were charged with unlawfully "cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth," as interracial marriage was deemed in violation of Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924. The Lovings were charged with a felony, found guilty, and sentenced to a year in jail. The couple initially appealed their conviction to the Supreme Court of Virginia, but the state's ruling was upheld. They then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear their case. In June of 1967, in a unanimous decision, the Court decided in the Lovings favor, overturning their convictions. It ruled that the antiquated Virginia statutes had no legitimate purpose "independent of invidious racial discrimination." Loving v. Virginia not only struck down Virginia's anti-miscegenation law but also ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the U.S. In the summer of 1967, a total of 16 states had not yet repealed anti-miscegenation laws prohibiting interracial marriages. 

Crucial Quote: 

"Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State," wrote Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1967. 

Tangent:

An international Gallup poll taken in 1968 found that opposition to interracial marriage was far greater in the U.S than in other nations. More than 70% of Americans disapproved of white-nonwhite marriages, in contrast with only 25% of residents in France, 23% in the Netherlands, and 21% of residents in Sweden. Approval of interracial marriage didn't reach a majority level in the U.S. until 1997.

Further Reading:

U.S. Approval of Interracial Marriage at New High of 94% (Gallup) 

A Record Number Of Americans, Including Republicans, Now Support Same-Sex Marriage (NPR)


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