Emil Guillermo: Victory for same-sex marriage must lead to broader focus on LGBTQ discrimination
June 29, 2015 11:08 AM

Korean American Ryan Garner-Carpenter, 27, walked down Market Street at SF Pride, a new man of options.

Ask him what he's into and he'll say leather and whips. 

But if he was into all things bondage before last week, now he can add something new--the right to marry.

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For gay Asian Americans like Ryan, this right is now protected by the Constitution.

And he has this man to thank.
 
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Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the historic case that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, was riding high as the honored guest at Sunday's San Francisco Pride parade. 

The celebratory weekend began early for Obergefell on Friday when the Supreme Court delivered its historic 5-4 decision. It was punctuated by a congratulatory call from President Obama.

"Not only have you been a great example for people," the president said to Obergefell, "but you also brought about a lasting change in this country, and that's pretty rare when that happens."

Let's hope it lasts.

Obergefell challenged Ohio's same-sex marriage ban and went to Maryland to get married. But when he returned to his home state, Ohio still didn't honor his marriage. 

The Supreme Court fixed that by saying that the right to marry applies everywhere in the U.S.

Justice Anthony Kennedy's ruling on same-sex marriage made reference to Loving v. Virginia--the 1967 ruling that lifted all bans on interracial marriage. It played a key part in his decision.

"A first premise of the Court's relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy," Kennedy said. "This abiding connection between marriage and liberty is why Loving invalidated interracial marriage bans under the Due Process Clause."

The other half of the argument was based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. 

But it was the liberty argument that sealed the deal.

NYU Law professor Kenji Yoshino called it one of the things that was really clever about the Kennedy opinion.

"He could have gone on equality grounds, but he primarily rested on liberty grounds," said Yoshino to CNN's Anderson Cooper. "If you go on equality grounds, you can either level up or level down. You can say we're not issuing marriage licenses to anyone, or we're issuing them to everyone. Once you say there's a fundamental right, as Kennedy did in his majority opinion, you can't level down anymore."

Yoshino said challenges to the ruling were unlikely to prevail, and that calls for constitutional amendments were  "utopian arguments." He also said that proposed statutes to protect religion from its conflicts with gay marriage won't work either, given the precedent established by Kennedy's decision.

In many ways, the plight of Obergefell was not much different from that of Asian Americans at the turn of the 20th century, when anti-miscegenation laws were bigoted responses to prevent marriage to whites. These laws forced many Asian Americans to cross state lines to marry. It wasn't until 1967 that the Loving case made interracial marriage legal in all 50 states. 

Just as the old laws on race and marriage wreaked havoc on the personal histories of my extended Filipino family, my cousin Pauline experienced the history of same-sex marriage firsthand.

In 2003, Pauline "married" her spouse, Jill Togawa, in San Francisco, when civil unions were seen as the solution of the day. Was it a wedding? It sure looked like it to me. 

It was the height of the really bigoted rhetoric about same-sex marriage. 

As a public service, I suggested that people go to a gay or lesbian wedding to understand what it was all about.  

In 2003, I wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle: "If you're blessed to experience one, as I was to attend my cousin Pauline's, all you notice is the love. And then you can see for yourself how hateful, intolerant and discriminatory this madness over marriage really is."

But Pauline wasn't done. 

In 2004 in San Francisco, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom took a stand, and despite little support from national political groups--gay or straight--the city allowed legal marriages to take place. Pauline and Jill got married again. 

In 2008, when California recognized the right to marry, Pauline and Jill married a third time. 

But then they moved to Hawaii, where marriage was illegal. 

In 2010, Pauline and Jill decided to become one of the plaintiffs to challenge Hawaii's law. But that was derailed when the legislature acted and same-sex marriage was ultimately made legal in 2013.

When the Supreme Court decided the Obergefell case, it was still early in the morning.

"I just felt a sense of peace," she told me from Honolulu when I called her.

The San Francisco parade was a slightly more raucous. 

Whenever news coincides with Pride as it did in 2013, when the appeal of Prop. 8 failed and weddings resumed in California, it's always a bit more electric. 

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This year, there were more than 200 marching units, with Asian Americans well represented, especially among employee groups of the biggest high-tech firms in the world, such as Google, Yahoo, and Facebook. 

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Most of the marchers were young, and considering how millennials are less likely to be married these days, it's hard to imagine if the marriage fight really resonated.

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But they shouldn't confuse marriage rights with full equality. The fight for same-sex marriage was just one small part of a more comprehensive fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

In states like Tennessee, discrimination in jobs and housing can still occur against LGBTQ people. While at least 22 states have some laws that protect against discrimination, the vast majority of states do not.

And so the party ends.

But the fight for justice never does.

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All photos by Emil Guillermo.
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. 
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.



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Emil Guillermo: Ronald Ebens, Vincent Chin's killer, denies financial windfall, debt to Chin estate in new interview
June 25, 2015 9:01 AM

"I'm doing fine," Ronald Ebens told me on Wednesday, a day after the June 23 anniversary of Vincent Chin's brutal murder, when I asked how he was doing.

He was quick to add, "I had a good Father's Day with my kids."

And when I asked if he did anything special on Tuesday, the actual day Chin's life ended,  Ebens answered back with a question. "Like what?" Ebens said. He quickly added, "I never forget it."

Never?

"Of course not."

But then he said, "I'm 75 years old, and I'm just tired of all that after 33 years."


I finally got through to Vincent Chin's killer to ask him about new information in the public records. I had contacted him several times requesting to talk. No answer. Finally, I made one more call in the hopes to catch him. He answered and remembered me.


Then he hung up.

 

I immediately called back. It was an informal and quick conversation, but he answered my questions about his potential financial windfall.


The documents revealed Ebens was the beneficiary of a friend's estate that received a portion of a $4 million dollar personal injury settlement in 2013.


Did Ebens get any money?

"Nope," said Ebens. He acknowledged his friend's wife had received the huge settlement, in which the friend's estate got 3 percent. But any significant money to Ebens himself?

"Not really," he said. "But whose business is this?"

The estate of Vincent Chin, of course.

In 1987, a civil suit for the unlawful death of Chin was settled and Ebens was ordered to pay $1.5 million, representing Chin's projected lost income as an engineer. Even conservatively estimating an income of $50,000 for 30 years, Chin's life was woefully undervalued at $1.5 million.

But Ebens has dodged payment by moving to Nevada, where he says he lives off his Social Security. Meanwhile, what's owed to the Chin estate reached $8 million in 2012 and continues to grow with interest.

According to sources close to the estate, Ebens actually did receive a token sum as a beneficiary, substitute plaintiff, and executor. The amount was as little as $10,000 for his involvement, which hardly makes a dent in what he owes the Chin estate.

But at this stage more than three decades after Chin's death, some still feel every penny should have gone to the Chin estate.

Ebens has never held much regard for his financial obligation.
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"It was ridiculous then, it's ridiculous now," Ebens said in my 2012 interview with him on the matter.

Ebens' words drew the ire of author and activist Helen Zia, executor of the Chin estate. "It shows little or no caring, and a lack of remorse," said Zia on Wednesday. 


HelenVC10.jpgWriter and activist Helen Zia speaks at New York City Chinatown event for the 10th anniversary of Vincent Chin's death in 1992. (photo by Corky Lee)

But the writer activist didn't stop there in my conversation with her. Zia thinks even the Boston Bomber has made a better apology than Ebens.

"[Ebens] has seen Vincent Chin's mother [Lily, who died in 2002] in total grief many times," Zia said. "Never was there a flicker of 'I'm sorry, I killed your son, and the grandchildren you hoped for.'"

For Zia, it's a matter of Ebens saying exactly what he is sorry for.

"He's only said he's sorry for what happened to his own life, as he said to you when you interviewed him [in 2012]," Zia told me. "He has never taken responsibility for the killing and continues to deny any racial motivation."

Indeed, the racial component was a key part of the case. Did what happen in the parking lot of the McDonald's in suburban Detroit--when Ebens struck Chin twice to the head with a baseball bat--amount to a hate crime?

Ebens was allowed to plea bargain from 2nd degree murder to manslaughter in order to escape prison time.

The public reaction led to a federal prosecution of Ebens, who was found guilty of violating Chin's civil rights. But that judgment was overturned on appeal, and Ebens was cleared of those charges in a subsequent trial.

Ebens never served time in prison.

And as far as the wrongful death settlement, in which dollars might bring a financial sense of justice, Ebens has managed to elude even that.

"The estate is not actually expecting to see any real recovery," Zia said when we wrapped up our recent conversation. "[But] we are committed to seeing that Vincent Chin's killer never have a day without a reminder of the life he took and the impact that had."

Maybe Ebens is being straight with me when he says he never forgets Vincent Chin.

But the public seems to forget even faster as the Chin story appears to fade with time.

Even Zia admits, as a new generation passes, that what Ebens did to Chin seems to many like ancient history.

But the iconic example of anti-Asian American violence happened in 1982. And given the Charleston shooting and xenophobic fears in a white minority America, it could certainly happen again.

Thirty-three years and counting, as another anniversary passes, the search for justice continues.

Asian Americans can ill afford to forget either the brutal death of Vincent Chin or the moral and financial debt still owed by Ronald Ebens.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. 
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Vincent Chin died 33 years ago, an injustice still; Ronald Ebens, Chin's killer, still owes millions to the Chin estate.
June 22, 2015 1:35 AM

On June 23, 1982, Vincent Chin died in a Detroit area hospital after efforts to revive him failed. Four days before, on June 19, the night of his bachelor party, Chin suffered a brutal blow to the head with a baseball bat in the hands of Ronald Ebens.

I have tried to get back in touch with Ebens to find out what's happening with him--more on that later in this piece.

For now, I assume that Ebens, now 75, stands by what he told me three years ago in an
exclusive interview.

Ebens said then that the whole incident wasn't about race, but was due to a sucker-punch from Chin; that he's sorry it all escalated, and for what happened.

But that still doesn't explain away the result.

One Asian American--Chin--is dead.  

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Ebens was allowed to plea bargain in a Michigan court to escape mandatory jail time for second degree murder. Ebens pleaded guilty; Michael Nitz, his stepson accomplice, pleaded nolo contendere. Both men got this sentence: three years' probation, a $3,000 fine, and $780 in court costs.

That's what you get for killing an Asian American in Michigan in the '80s.

Ebens was convicted in a subsequent federal civil rights trial, but that was reversed on appeal. He was later cleared of all charges in a second trial.

The upshot--Ebens has never served any jail time for killing Chin.

And the civil judgment against him in Michigan that orders him to pay the Chin estate?

Ebens has virtually ignored it by claiming poverty and eluding collection efforts.

The bill by now is at or near $10 million, and not a dime has been paid.

"It was ridiculous then, it's ridiculous now," Ebens said defiantly in my exclusive interview with him three years ago. It remains one of the rare times Ebens has talked about the entire situation:  

"It should never have happened," Ebens told me over the phone. "[And] it had nothing to do with the auto industry or Asians or anything else. Never did, never will. I could have cared less about that. That's the biggest fallacy of the whole thing."

That night at the strip club, after some harsh words were exchanged, Ebens said Chin stood up and came around to the other side of the stage. "He sucker-punched me and knocked me off my chair. That's how it started. I didn't even know he was coming," Ebens said.

Chin's friends testified that Ebens made racial remarks, mistaking Chin to be Japanese. And then when Chin got into a shoving match, Ebens threw a chair at him but struck Nitz instead.

But Ebens' version that there was no racial animosity or epithets is actually supported by testimony from Chin's friend, Jimmy Choi, who apologized to Ebens for Chin's behavior that included Chin throwing a chair and injuring Nitz.

What about the baseball bat and how Ebens and Nitz followed Chin to a nearby McDonald's?

Ebens said when all parties were asked to leave the strip club, they were out in the street. It's undisputed that Chin egged Ebens to fight on.

"The first thing he said to me is 'You want to fight some more?'" Ebens recalled. "Five against two is not good odds," said Ebens, who declined to fight.

Then later, when Chin and his friends left, Ebens' stepson went to get a baseball bat from his car.(Ironically, it was a Jackie Robinson model).  Ebens said he took it away from Nitz because he didn't want anyone taking it from him and using it on them.

But then Ebens said his anger got the best of him and he drove with Nitz to find Chin, finally spotting him at the nearby McDonald's.

"That's how it went down," Ebens said. "If he hadn't sucker punched me in the bar... nothing would have ever happened. They forced the issue. And from there after the anger built up, that's where things went to hell."

Ebens calls it "the gospel truth."

But he says he's cautious speaking now because he doesn't want to be seen as shifting the blame. "I'm as much to blame," he sadly admitted. "I should've been smart enough to just call it a day. After they started to disperse, [it was time to] get in the car and go home."

At the McDonald's where the blow that led to Chin's death actually occurred, Ebens' memory is more selective. To this day, he even wonders about hitting Chin with the bat. "I went over that a hundred, maybe 1,000 times in my mind the last 30 years. It doesn't make sense of any kind that I would swing a bat at his head when my stepson is right behind him. That makes no sense at all."

And then he quickly added, almost wistfully, "I don't know what happened."

Later in the interview, Ebens told me that when he thinks about Chin, no images come to mind. "It just makes me sick to my stomach, that's all," he said, thinking about all the lives that were wrecked, both Chin's and his own.

By the end of our conversation, Ebens still wasn't sure he wanted me to tell his story. "It will only alienate people," he said. "Why bother? I just want to be left alone and live my life
."

Ebens has been left alone in his new state of residence, Nevada, where he has eluded the monetary judgment against him in the Chin case, which amounted to $8 million when I spoke to him three years ago.

No payments have been made since, yet Ebens has come into some money, according to a quick look at the public records.

In 2013, Ebens was named an executor of a close friend's estate. The friend's wife had just won a $4+ million court settlement in a personal injury suit, with 3 percent going to her husband.

Ebens' share as the executor could be worth $120,000.

More a scratch-off than a MegaMillions win. But shouldn't Chin's estate have gotten some sliver of that from Ebens?

Ebens did not respond to my recent request for an interview.

At this point, the judgment remains one way to secure justice for Vincent Chin.

The least we can do as a community is to remind Ebens that he has yet to pay off his moral debt for the killing of Vincent Chin.

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The full post on Emil Guillermo's 2012 interview with Ronald Ebens can be read here.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. 
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.




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Emil Guillermo: Rachel Dolezal, Dylann Roof, and Father's Day
June 20, 2015 12:16 AM

Rachel Dolezal nearly wrecked everyone's Father's Day. 

You don't often see a daughter outed so publicly by her white father for passing as an African American, but I guess post-racial filial love isn't necessarily unconditional.
   
I admit to being somewhat sympathetic of Rachel D., at first. The Census, our demographic standard, is, after all, a "you are what you say you are" proposition. You can self-identify to your heart's content. No one is going to enforce a "one drop rule," like they did in Virginia for hundreds of years to keep marriage a segregated institution. 

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But Dolezal's "no drop" rule can also be problematic. And when her family's outing her became like a reality show audition, leave it to the black man whom she called dad, Albert Wilkerson, to bring things back to earth. "There are bigger issues in this country to be discussing," he told People magazine. "[But] I'm not going to throw her under the bus."

Now that's the kind of love you'll only find from a real, though fake, "Dad." 

I'm sure you too were begging for another big story to knock old Rachel D. back into obscurity, as Dolezal caught flak from all sides of the race debate.

But she did show how America isn't really ready to tackle the 21st century racial identity problems she poses. 

Is race really as fluid as she says? If a biological white person can be black, then why don't we simply solve our diversity ills by having all whites declare themselves people of color?  Why bother finding, recruiting, and training real people of color? Solving diversity with white privilege would be an HR officer's dream.

Far-fetched? In the Pew report on America's growing multiracial community, race was seen less as a biological notion and defined more as a "set of experiences, attitudes, and social interactions that are more closely aligned with the black community."  

That might aid "No Drop" Rachel in her self-identifying claim, but it sure creates categorical issues.

For example, 60 percent of black/white biracials saw themselves as black. And the others were white?

Biracial Asian/whites were just the opposite, quick to identify more white than Asian.

And yet white/Asian biracials were still subjected to slurs and jokes at the same level as white/black biracials.

Being part white is no passport to acceptance. 

If you think race is complicated now, just wait a generation. 

In the meantime, as Rachel D. recedes from the headlines, who expected she'd be shoved from the news by Dylann Roof?

The emergence of Roof and his old school white supremacy is a reminder that the bad old things of the past have never been truly dealt with and are still a pus ball away at all times. 

South Carolina has white supremacy all over its historical DNA.

But the profile of Roof that emerges is one of young, fresh-faced millennial racism.

Dylann.jpgA roommate of Roof's, Dalton Tyler, told news media that Roof was "big on segregation" and "planning something like [the shootings] for six months" because African Americans were "taking over the world," and that he wanted to start a "civil war."

Roof himself told his victims in the church before he shot them that African Americans were "raping our women" and "taking over our country."

Sexual anxiety mixed with vindictive white supremacy? 

When I heard Roof say that, it practically made my Father's Day.

That's the kind of talk Filipino Americans heard from whites in one of the more racist periods in California in the 1920s and 1930s.

It's what my father heard when he arrived to America. Besides being called "monkey" or "goo-goo."

My favorite passages in Ron Takaki's "Strangers from a Different Shore" are those on the fears of white men that Filipinos were taking their jobs and their women.

 "Unlike men from China, Japan, Korea and India, men from the Philippines seemed to seek out white female companionship and to be attractive to white women," Takaki wrote. Quoting a California businessman, Takaki added, "The Filipinos are hot little rabbits and many of these white women like them for this reason."

Those sentiments led to a concern over racial purity and the creation of a "new type of mulatto."

In Congressional hearings on Filipino immigration, V.S. McClatchy, the owner and publisher of the Sacramento Bee, testified: "You can realize, with the declared preference of the Filipino for white women and the willingness on the part of some white females to yield to that preference, the situation which arises." 

Pray tell? 

Why, of course, a situation that could easily be avoided with McClatchy's exclusionist proposals, which would limit Filipino immigration and even deport those already here. As he said, it was all done "to protect the nation, as well as itself, against the peaceful penetration of another colored race."

But before any legislation, there were numerous instances of violence throughout California against Fillipinos. The most famous case involved hundreds of white men armed with pistols and clubs in Watsonville, January 1930, which ended in the shooting death of 22-year-old Fermin Tobera.

Roof's deeds at the historical Emanuel AME church? Asian Americans deplore the act. We too have felt the sting of white supremacy past and stand united against it in the present.
 
My youngest daughter had never heard of Fermin Tobera, or the white exclusionists of California in her grandfather's day.

I gave her a copy of Takaki's famous Asian American historical narrative. 

It was her Father's Day gift from me.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. 
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.


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Emil Guillermo: Race Mixers Unite--Remember the Lovings, the Naims, and all the Asian bachelors past
June 12, 2015 5:31 PM

It's Loving Day, folks, and we might as well make it a whole darn weekend of happy mixing, because Asian Americans really had more of a role in the legendary Loving case than you think.

It wasn't just a white/black thing, as I'll explain in a bit. 

For those of you stuck in a Kim and Kanye World, I know, it's hard to imagine a time when people didn't just hook up when they felt like hooking up. 

But it's true. The hooks were different then and could get you jailed.

Back in the day, anti-intermarriage laws were present throughout the U.S. 

Whites couldn't marry blacks. And Filipinos or Asians. With Whites? Don't even think about it.

Sure, taboos tend to make things spicier, but oh so illegal.

And while laws were passed in 1948 to allow for race mixing in California and some other states, the anti-miscegenation laws didn't really come off the books until Loving v. Virginia

That's the case in which Richard Loving, a white male from Virginia, married Mildred Jeter, an African American female, in Washington, D.C. in 1958. When they later returned to Virginia, they were promptly arrested.
 lovings.jpgThey pleaded guilty and fought all the way to the Supreme Court for their right to marry.

On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the ban on interracial marriage was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

"It was the only law that made it concrete for the nation," said Phil Hirschkop, the lead lawyer who argued the case before the Supreme Court. "California opinions applied just to California. The ban on intermarriage was the law in 17 states (mostly in the South); Maryland repealed its own law. So Loving struck down those laws, but also hundreds of others. Many states had multiple laws, not just banning marriage from races or whatever it was defined by, but laws against going to another state to avoid the marriage laws, passing property. There was a whole host of laws, we counted 167 laws that were voided by the Loving opinion itself." 

hirschkop.jpgHIrschkop, who has practiced law for more than 50 years, said the Loving case was simple, as there were no trials or depositions. But the impact of the case was huge.

"Loving most importantly had two major legal implications," Hirschkop said in a phone interview. "Of course, it recognized a right to marry as a fundamental right. There are two kinds of rights, rights made by laws or constitution, such as freedom of religion and speech. But then there are those inalienable rights that are not created by constitution, but are protected by the constitution, such as the right of privacy. When you get to Roe v. Wade, the right of a woman's sanctity of her body, that's not a right enunciated in the constitution anywhere, but it is, in fact, protected. And in the same way, so is marriage. The Court recognized a whole new area of rights that you're born with, and by virtue of citizenship. That's the first big thing in Loving."

Hirschkop continued: "The second big thing is that it recognized where the state uses race as a basis of a statutory proscription, the burden is on the state to show a compelling state interest. Normally, if you bring a case attacking a state statute, you have a heavy burden to show why the statute is unconstitutional. But where the statute has a class-based animus, the burden shifts to the state. It makes it much easier to contest the validity of such laws."

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One of the little known facts of the Loving argument is how Asian Americans informed Hirschkop.

It involves the case of Naim v. Naim, in which a Chinese sailor, Han Say Naim, met his wife Ruby, a white woman living in Virginia, and then went to North Carolina to be married on June 26, 1952, simply because of Virginia's ban on all interracial marriages.

North Carolina didn't ban white and Asian marriages. 

They returned to Virginia and lived as husband and wife for a year. But then Ruby Naim filed for an annulment based on the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924.

Her husband, Han Say Naim, argued for the validity of his marriage, reportedly concerned for his immigration status. His lawyer, David Carliner, wanted to challenge the Virginia law. The case went all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court, which ultimately backed a circuit court decision and sided with Mrs. Naim. 

Here are the concluding graphs of the Virginia opinion:

We are unable to read in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, or in any other provision of that great document, any words or any intendment which prohibit the State from enacting legislation to preserve the racial integrity of its citizens, or which denies the power of the State to regulate the marriage relation so that it shall not have a mongrel breed of citizens. We find there no requirement that the State shall not legislate to prevent the obliteration of racial pride, but must permit the corruption of blood even though it weaken or destroy the quality of its citizenship. Both sacred and secular history teach that nations and races have better advanced in human progress when they cultivated their own distinctive characteristics and culture and developed their own peculiar genius. 

Regulation of the marriage relation is, we think, distinctly one of the rights guaranteed to the States and safeguarded by that bastion of States' rights, somewhat battered perhaps but still a sturdy fortress in our fundamental law, the tenth section of the Bill of Rights, which declares: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

The decree appealed from is affirmed.

With that, from June 13, 1955, there would be no question on Virginia's ban on white and Asian marriages.

Naim took the case to the Supreme Court, but his timing was wrong. It was one hot potato at a time. The Court had just ruled on the monumental Brown v. Board of Education case.

But in honor of the Naim case, Hirschkop said Naim's lawyer, David Carliner, was included in the Loving court papers.

"Naim was a terrible opinion, because it talked about "bastardization of the races," the same ugly reasoning, same ugly language that the court applied to black/white was definitely applied to Asian Americans," Hirschkop said.

Hirschkop mentioned one other situation as being integral to the Loving argument--the fervor of the 1920s and 1930s that resulted in anti-miscegenation laws in California left the largely male Filipino population, brought in as laborers, in a sexual limbo.

"Going back to '20s, that was a big linchpin of our Loving argument," Hirschkop said. "The 1920s were one of the worst periods of American history. We came out of the First World War into the Great Depression, and that's when a lot of these miscegenation laws were written in the United States. And prejudice was at its worst in the history of this country."

"It was just a bitter time in the country," Hirschkop continued. "When the Klan was at the height of its power in the '20s, Virginia re-did its law, and at that time, many other states re-did their anti-miscegenation laws. They did other laws to oppress everything but the white race, as well as maintain the supremacy of the white race."

Hirschkop also pointed to one irony that stays with him to this day. 

"We came out of World War II and Asian Americans were in a horrible situation," Hirschkop said. "We locked out the Nisei. Everyone west of Denver was locked in a concentration camp. And one odd contradiction. . . the man who wrote the Loving opinion, Chief Justice Earl Warren, was attorney general of California and signed the document that locked up the Japanese Americans in California." Indeed, the JACL was well represented with attorney William Marutani arguing in the Supreme Court as an amicus in the Loving case.

As a tribute to the importance of Loving, the case is often used to help fortify arguments in favor of same-sex marriages. And just this week, the Pew Research Center released its report "Multiracial in America," calling multiracial Americans "the cutting edge of social and demographic change in the U.S.--young, proud, tolerant and growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole." (With three half-Asian children myself, I'll comment on that more in the future.)

For now, it's pretty daunting to realize that none of it could have happened without Loving.

When you think of all the hate we've all had to overcome, just to get to first base, we should pause and remember Loving Day on June 12th, and the anniversary of the Naim decision on June 13th.  

It's worth an extended weekend to celebrate and affirm our right to love and marry across racial lines. 

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. 
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.





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