For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Andrea and Sylvester
Challenging Marriage Taboos and Paving the Road to Same-Sex Marriage
  • Robert V. Dodge
Reviews Table of Contents Introduction «Back
Andrea and Sylvester. Challenging Marriage Taboos and Paving the Road to Same-Sex Marriage
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In 1941 a young couple met and fell in love; but one of them was considered Black while the other was considered White. Laws against intermarriage between races had been upheld by every court in the United States since Reconstruction, after the Civil War.

Andrea and Sylvester - a Mexican-American woman and an African-American man - challenged these laws and won, and their success inspired changes that ended that taboo. When same-sex marriage became a pressing issue, their case was the precedent that first persuaded the courts to allow it. Thus Andrea and Sylvester can be credited with successfully challenging a second marriage taboo.

Dodge sets the scene for their personal drama and traces how their example helped establish the momentum toward more liberal marriage laws throughout the United States, culminating with the 2015 Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex marriage.


About the Author

Robert V. Dodge, born and raised in North Dakota, holds a master's degree from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a master's in Education, and has done extensive graduate work in history and law. He has published numerous books and articles. His latest include three with Algora Publishing, Catherine Cater: An Elegant Rise Above Race and Gender as Scholar and Professor (2016),  Andrea and Sylvester: Challenging Marriage Taboos and Paving the Road to Same-Sex Marriage (2015), and Which Chosen People? Manifest Destiny Meets the Sioux, As Seen by Frank Fiske, Frontier Photographer (2013).

Bob taught social studies and Advanced Placement history in North Dakota, in London and for many years in Singapore; he now lives in Denver. Bob was once an ace on the tennis court but he says that, too, is history.

About the Book
This is the story of a couple that has received too little attention for the impact they have had on society and law. Andrea, a Mexican girl, met Sylvester, a Black man, working on an assembly line during World War Two. Both were second-generation...
This is the story of a couple that has received too little attention for the impact they have had on society and law. Andrea, a Mexican girl, met Sylvester, a Black man, working on an assembly line during World War Two. Both were second-generation Los Angeles residents who suffered from discrimination in a city dominated by white superiority and the center of the eugenics movement. This book discusses their case and factors that led to the court decision. Their victory broke the logjam on racial intermarriage, and states began eliminating their prohibitions. After 19 years, the U.S. Supreme Court declared all laws prohibiting interracial marriage invalid.

Andrea and Sylvester were soon dating and in love. When they went to get a marriage license, their application was rejected. A quirk in California law declared Mexicans "White" for certain purposes. They challenged the constitutionality of laws preventing marriages between races, though no case had been successful since the 1800s. This book discusses their case and factors that led to the court decision. Their victory broke the logjam on racial intermarriage, and states began eliminating their prohibitions. After 19 years the U.S. Supreme Court declared all laws prohibiting interracial marriage invalid.

After the Stonewall riots and when AIDS raised legal questions for many partners, same-sex marriage became an issue for more couples. One response that states commonly gave was to pass laws defining marriage as a contract between a woman and a man; and the federal government adopted this position.

Opponents of same-sex marriage frequently said this was a new phenomenon and it involved "unnatural" behavior, though same-sex couples have been known for over 4000 years, and the same had been said of those who advocated interracial marriage. Some blamed natural disasters and war deaths on homosexuals as God’s revenge. Massachusetts was first to declare the law preventing same-sex marriage unconstitutional and the precedent relied on most heavily was the case of Andrea and Sylvester, as their past was revived to challenge a second marriage taboo. California ruled next and again frequently called on Andrea and Sylvester’s case for support.

That got things rolling and 37 states have approved same-sex marriage through legislative action or court decision. The US. Supreme Court’s decision will determine whether the final 13 also are included.


Introduction
In 1941 a young couple met and fell in love. The story could have been simple but the woman, Andrea Perez, was Mexican-American and the man, Sylvester Davis, Jr., was African-American. They lived in Los Angeles, a city that was unfriendly to both, at a time when it led California as the center of America’s eugenics movement, further enhancing...
In 1941 a young couple met and fell in love. The story could have been simple but the woman, Andrea Perez, was Mexican-American and the man, Sylvester Davis, Jr., was African-American. They lived in Los Angeles, a city that was unfriendly to both, at a time when it led California as the center of America’s eugenics movement, further enhancing the prejudice they faced. Mixed-race marriages were illegal in most of the United States and California had a peculiar law that considered theirs a marriage between Black and White. Across the country there was near unanimous opposition to mixed-race marriages. Laws against miscegenation that prevented intermarriage between races had never been successfully challenged in court at any level since Reconstruction following the Civil War. Their love was strong and they sought to overcome the well-entrenched taboo that was commonly regarded as an assumption.

All indications were they had no chance, but it was an uncanny combination of the coming together of the right people at the right time. They succeeded and this is the story of how that happened.

Their story is important as it began a movement. Theirs was a state court issue but it was followed by other states reconsidering their laws on intermarriage. When it finally reached the U.S. Supreme Court, the rejection of the taboo inaugurated by Andrea and Sylvester culminated in the end of bans on interracial marriages that dated back to Colonial times.

Breaking that logjam led to one of the groundbreaking decisions for equality was something the couple was aware of but distanced themselves from in an effort to live a "normal" American family life. Though Andrea and Sylvester were never interested in leading a cause or becoming involved in the civil rights movement, their decision to take on the law had considerable consequences that lead to great change. As they led a quiet life, their case remained alive and carried on, since the influence of their love story would continue to affect people’s lives. Without their involvement they confronted a second marriage taboo.

Many felt they were wrongly being denied the right to marry for reasons that were similar to those that had prevented mixed race couples from marrying in an earlier time, and the laws preventing intermarriage had been wrong. When same-sex marriage became an issue and was first successfully argued in state courts nationally, Andrea and Sylvester's case was in the forefront. In the initial successful arguments that broke the deadlock of laws preventing same-sex marriage, the case that weighed most heavily was Andrea and Sylvester’s. The Massachusetts Supreme Court was first to rule in favor of allowing same-sex marriage and second state was California. Both relied heavily on the case of Andrea and Sylvester in reaching their groundbreaking decisions announcing that marriage with the person of one’s choice was a natural right that all deserved. Like the path of laws against mixed marriage after Andrea and Sylvester’s case, the laws preventing same-sex marriage have fallen state after state, so the final decision is left in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

A great amount of social and legal change came from the chance meeting of Andrea Perez and Sylvester Davis on the Lockheed assembly line as America prepared for World War II.


Table of Contents
Preface Chapter 1. Trouble in the Neighborhood Chapter 2. White Dominance as Los Angeles Becomes Multi-Cultural Chapter 3. Eugenics comes to Los Angeles Chapter 4. A Mixed Couple M
Preface
Chapter 1. Trouble in the Neighborhood
Chapter 2. White Dominance as Los Angeles Becomes Multi-Cultural
Chapter 3. Eugenics comes to Los Angeles
Chapter 4. A Mixed Couple Meets in an Unwelcoming City
Chapter 5. Dating During Wartime
Chapter 6. Unexpected Complications
Chapter 7. Preparations
Chapter 8. Andrea and Sylvester Get Their Day in Court
Chapter 9. The Decision in a Year of Changes
Chapter 10. The Delay and a Wedding
Chapter 11. A New Life in a Changing World
Chapter 12. Life Changes as Their Victory Spreads
Chapter 13. Civil Rights in the Early 1960s
Chapter 14. Final Victory Against Interracial Bans in Marriage
Chapter 15. Andrea and Sylvester Grow Older and a New Issue That Will Be Related to Them Emerges
Chapter 16. Same-Sex Marriage Debate Emerges
Chapter 17. The Debate Gets Intense
Chapter 18. Perez v. Sharp Revived in Breakthrough
Chapter 19. The Reaction
Chapter 20. Perez v. Sharp as Analogy Precedent
Chapter 21. A Storm and the Lull Before the Storm
Chapter 22. Sisyphus in California
Chapter 23. Tipping Point
Chapter 24. Dominoes
Chapter 25. Conclusion
Epilogue: The Decision
Sources
Index


Pages 320
Year: 2015
BISAC: LAW038030 LAW / Family Law / Marriage
BISAC: FAM037000 FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Prejudice
BISAC:
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