Interracial Marriage

Photo: Thomas Northcut / Getty Images
Photo: Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

Definition: An interracial marriage is a marriage between members of different races.

Interracial marriage was historically taboo, as well as, illegal in the United States. This changed in 1967 with a United States Supreme Court ruling that placing race-based restrictions on whom one could marry is in violation of the United States Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. This clause is part of the fourteenth amendment.

Interracial marriage is also a form of exogamy. Exogamy is considered a social arrangement where marriage is allowed only outside a social group, such as one's cultural group.   

In 2013, a record-high 12% of newlyweds married someone of a different race, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data. (This share does not take into account the “interethnic” marriages between Hispanics and non-Hispanics, which we covered in an earlier report on intermarriage.) Looking beyond newlyweds, 6.3% of all marriages were between spouses of different races in 2013, up from less than 1% in 1970. 

Some racial groups are more likely to intermarry than others. Of the 3.6 million adults who got married in 2013, 58% of American Indians, 28% of Asians, 19% of blacks and 7% of whites have a spouse whose race was different from their own. (From www.PewReasearch.org)

 

In 1963, the a couple named Mildred Jeeter and Richard Loving fell in love and wished to marry.

They approached the American Civil Liberties Union to fight for their right to marry in court. After an extensive legal battle, in 1967 the Supreme Court decided to rule in their favor. Despite this, laws making interracial marriage illegal remained on the books in several states. However, those laws were rendered unenforceable due to the Lovings' landmark victory.

The number of interracial marriages increased since the Supreme Court ruling in 1967 making it unconstitutional for states to ban interracial marriages. Pew Research surveys have shown that people are generally accepting of interracial marriage. Unfortunately, many married interracial couples struggle as a result of the negative societal attitudes and prejudices that still remain. 

Also Known As: Mixed marriage, miscegenation, exogamy, multiracial, biracial

Alternate Spellings: Inter-racial

*Updated by Marni Feuerman