Copyright (c) 2007 University of Wisconsin Law School
Wisconsin Law Review
ARTICLE: THE AFTERMATH OF LOVING V. VIRGINIA: SEX ASYMMETRY IN AFRICAN AMERICAN INTERMARRIAGE
2007 Wis. L. Rev. 533
R. Richard Banks*
The Supreme Court's 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia invalidated antimiscegenation statutes as unconstitutional. 1 In the years since Loving, intermarriage rates have risen substantially, though not uniformly. African-Americans, for example, are less likely to intermarry than Latinos or Asian-Americans. 2 Among African-Americans, men are nearly three times as likely as women to intermarry. 3
Although the sex asymmetry in African-American intermarriage is often assumed by scholars and lay people alike to be longstanding, it is actually of recent vintage, having developed only since Loving. The most noteworthy feature of the post-Loving period is not the increased intermarriage rate of African-American men, but the sustained low intermarriage rate of black women, especially in light of the demise of antimiscegenation laws and the increased opportunity for interracial contact.
Recognition of the recent development of the sex asymmetry and of the low intermarriage rate of black women redirects analysis of the sex asymmetry in two ways. First, it shifts attention from historical to more contemporary influences on intermarriage. 4 Second, it situates the sustained low intermarriage rate of black women as the outcome in need of explanation. Rather than ask why the intermarriage rate of black men increased during the 1960s and 1970s, one might ask instead why the intermarriage rate of black women - now the least likely of all groups to intermarry - did not. This brief Article offers an hypothesis about changes during the Loving era that depressed the intermarriage rate ...
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