I wonder which was more common in the era of those laws, and that in itself might be off topic, but as the laws of coverture treated men and women fundamentally differently, I am wondering if these laws were concerned more, either in their historical context or actual legal content, with either one type of interracial pairing or the other.


1 Answer 1


They existed in many other places. A quick read of Wikipedia identifies several countries in contemporaneous eras with the U.S. Laws where anti-miscegenation laws were enacted, including Australia (anti-aboriginal, repealed c. 1930s), South Africa (Repealed in 1985), India (under British Colonial Government, following the rebellion of 1857), Germany (Under Nazi Laws), and Italy (under Fascist laws).

There are also countries that still have these laws at time of writing, including Egypt (Men can lose their citizenship if they marry an Israeli woman), Saudi Arabia (Women are forbidden to marry non-Muslim men. Saudi Men must get a government permit to marry a foreign woman and may only do so as second wives if their first wife is unable to give birth. They are also forbidden from marrying anyone from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Chad, or Pakistan.), North Korea (Specifically targets Eastern Europeans following a bad diplomatic situation with the Soviet Union and Marriages to Chinese citizens), and debatably Israel (Israeli citizens can marry Palestinians, however, said spouses are not automatically granted citizenship or residency status in Israel.).

Historically, China had laws enacted and repealed many times over its long history, with the only date offered being in the 9th century AD, France had some laws enacted in the 1723 and repealed in 1833, however it's hard to track if and when the laws were enacted and enforced. Finally, pre-Islamic Iberia (Modern day Spain, Portugal, and possibly Andora) had some laws preventing Visigoths from marrying Hispano-Roman peoples in the 5th Century AD but they were largely abandoned by the 6th Century AD.

With respect to the United States, only three Anti-Miscegenation Laws pertained to bans on marriages in which neither spouse was white - OK banned people of African descent from marrying people of non-African descent. Louisiana banned marriages between people of Native Americans and African decent, and Maryland banned marriage between people of African and Filipinos descent. All other laws can be summed up as generally banning the marriage of Europeans and African, Native American, or Asian descent (note: This does not mean every state banned all three, but rather that all laws would ban a combination of all three.). A total of 9 states never enacted any Anti-Miscegenation laws at any point in history.

An interesting aspect was Hispanic Americans were not considered "not white" and this consideration is relatively recement (to the point that "I Love Lucy" can be considered the first mixed race marriage on TV... but at the time it originally aired, Ricky Ricardo was considered "white"). That said, in State v. Pass (1942), Frank Pass was convicted of murder based on compelled testimony from his wife, Ruby Conteras Pass, who was a Mexican immigrant. Pass tried to appeal on the grounds that a spouse cannot testify against her husband, but he appelant courts ruled that Pass' marriage was illegal because Conteras Pass was partially Native American heritage. The court did note that the ruling was only due to the wording of the law meant people of mixed race couldn't legally marry anyone at all in the State of Arizona (Arizona repealed all of its Anti-Miscegenation laws prior to the 1967 Loving v. Virgina decision which ruled such laws unconstitutional.).

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    Okay but that was just a very minor and peripheral part of the question. The main question being did they concern themselves in America more with one type or another of pairing? Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 11:39
  • @Seekinganswers Added some more to info to cover your other question. Please note, that my initial answer was part of your question at the time I wrote my answer. TL:DR: Yes, some laws banned marriages between couples where neither partner were of European descent, but it was not common.
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 12:54
  • Sorry, that edit was clumsy and did not have the exact intended effect. Apologies that it might have been a bit unreasonable in effect. Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 13:06
  • Okay, so it has always been clear to me that the main concern and focus of anti miscegenation laws has been white vs. black, I’m just wondering if there was any difference in the incidence or legal treatment of either permutation along the heterosexual dimension/axis or the other which is really the crux of the question. Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 13:10
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    @Seekinganswers In that reguard, I turn your attention to the SCOTUS decision in Pace v. Alabama (1883) which held that the laws were compliant with the 14th amendment's equal protection clause because Whites and Blacks were both punished equally under the law (that said, we must remember that in 1883 Alabama, what the law said and what the people did could be dramatically different. But the courts were largely concerned with the De Jure, not the De Facto of the situation.).
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 13:16

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