American marriage is a political institution

An assistant professor of political science from the University of Oregon discussed social issues surrounding marriage over time and her book April 15 in the Pioneer Reading Room.

Author of American Marriage: A Political Institution, Priscilla Yamin discussed the purpose and meaning of marriage for many different people.

Yamin talked about what marriage has meant during different periods of time and how it has changed, as well as its political purpose.

She defined political institutions as a state governed entity that sets norms and practices and marriage as a right and something that is representative of adulthood.

During the reconstruction era, 1865-1880, marriage was a form of racial status for freed slaves, but they could not marry someone from a different race.

In the progressive era, 1886-1915, marriage was viewed as an obligation to preserve “native” Americans.

In 1967, Mildred and Richard Loving were sentenced to one year in a Virginia prison because they were an interracial married couple who violated the state’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924.

The U.S. Supreme Court then ruled the decision unconstitutional and reversed the act. Chief Justice Earl Warren was quoted saying that “marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man.””

Yamin said that politics define marriage and that marriage shapes politics.

“I thought it was interesting how she [Yamin] explained marriage through history and how the idea and concept of marriage has changed,” freshman Maddie Bergman said.

Yamin thinks marriage is what brings us together and that it’s about love no matter the gender or race.

Interracial marriage was once illegal, and Yamin said she thinks gay marriage will follow the same path and one day will be legal and without stigma.


Kiera Downs/Copy editor

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