THE LA Times
Saturday, December 7, 1996
_Community Essay: Once, interracial marriage was banned, too; *Changing
responses to the musical "Showboat" may be a harbinger for same-sex marriage._

  On the evening of the Hawaii Circuit Court's opinion that the state has
not proved a "compelling interest" to deny gay and lesbian couples marriage,
I was witnessing another piece of history. I saw "Showboat" at the Ahmanson
Theater, and one of its plot lines deals with the illegal marriage of a
mulatto woman to a white man. The characters who try to arrest Julie are the
villains of "Showboat," and Julie's life is ruined once the bad guys make it
so she and her beloved can't be married. By the time "Showboat" was written,
the law was changing, even though public opinion had not. In the late 1920's,
when that show appeared on Broadway, much or most of the country still
thought that black people and white people should not marry, and their
argument was often that it was in the compelling interests of the state to
protect the sanctity of marriage, to protect children and to protect and
important building block of culture. "Showboat" was avant-garde.
  But now, isn't it interesting that countless people flock to see
"Showboat" as a museum piece and take it for granted that the bad guys are
the ones who try to stop the marriage between the black woman and white man?
And that most of those people see Julie's life as unnecessarily tragic? And
doesn't that imply that, nowadays, people feel it is in the compelling
interests of the state to apply all laws equally?
  Unfortunately for America, many people still see interracial marriage as
anathema. And that is tragic, both for the couples and for the culture.
Interracial couples face extraordinary hurdles. But the law is on their
side. Tough as their lives can be, interracial couples have been given a
chance to marry as they wish.
  Gay people deserve the same application of the law. We must remember that
earlier discriminatory laws were supposedly done "in the compelling interest
of the state." And for a lesson on the evils of discriminatory marriage
laws, audiences can take a wonderful history lesson from "Showboat." 
  "Fish gotta swim, Birds gotta fly!"
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