Love is in the air! As you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your bae or your friends, consider that just 50 years ago, some marriages were illegal. The ban on interracial marriage was found
unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Loving v. Virginia case of 1967. So, if you today are able to marry the person you are deeply, unapologetically, and unabashedly in love with, then take a minute to thank those policymakers who fought on the behalf of people like you and changed the ancient wedding prohibitions. Otherwise, you would have never gotten the chance to hold a grand ceremony as you do today, be it inviting your guests to witness your union or publicly acknowledging your love with the help of photos clicked by wedding photographers Charlottesville or the like.
Anyway, you must be wondering if there were any obstacles in the marriages that took place in the past. Well, for your information, there were several cases–some got highlighted, others did not make it to the press. But today we will discuss one that could come out in the open. This recent story on Peter Edelman and Marian Wright Edelman got us thinking about love and marriage…and economic mobility. (It also reminded us of that day Peter came to visit MDC.) Marian Wright, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, and Peter Edelman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, were the third interracial couple to be married a year after the Loving case. This union was the beginning of a powerhouse couple in the civil rights arena.
At the time of their marriage, Marian was an accomplished Yale-educated civil rights lawyer and the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi bar. Peter had been an aide to U.S. Sen, Robert F. Kennedy and was working in policy and law. They would’ve faced quite a few challenges right from the start of the marriage. It would’ve been difficult for them to find people for their wedding, unlike today when you could just take a wedding photographer quiz or look up progressive caterers online. But no doubt, Marian and Peter Edelman’s mutual support and encouragement contributed to their many successes. Similarly, one can speculate that some financial benefits of marriage helped in strengthening their partnership and the prospects of their three children as well. Just a year earlier, the marriage would have been unlawful.
And sure, love and commitment are great. It is the foundation of any successful relationship or marriage. Despite the fact that time can play tricks on relationships and people might turn to True Pheromones or like products to rekindle their passion, these are only the emotional and physical aspects of it. Marriage historically is an economic engagement, too. Conventional wisdom points to financial benefits like having a dual income, the ability to share expenses, tax breaks, and lower rates on health insurance.
The U.S. Supreme Court used the precedent set by Loving for reasoning as such in Obergefell v. Hodges (2005), which protected the right of same-sex couples to marry, making the institution available to even more people. There is research that suggests some economic benefit to some people who tie the knot. However, there is much debate about how marriage and financial benefits are associated with one another.
While some argue that this link is direct and causal, others argue that the relationship between the two is more nuanced. For example, dual-earner households have higher household incomes and, therefore, more resources at their disposal that can be used for personal enrichment, creating a financial safety net, or investments in their children’s future. Proponents of this perspective suggest that strategies to improve upward economic mobility should focus on improving “the security of poor people and their children,” which will in turn “also tend to improve the stability of their relationships.” As they become economically stable, they might feel that their bond is becoming stronger. Nevertheless, if they have ongoing issues between them, they can also seek professional assistance from a counselor (similar to counselling east melbourne).
But still, the moral of the story is: more marriages and the wealth gap closes, right? Sorry to ruin your honeymoon, folks, but the racial wealth gap persists regardless of family structure. As you can see in the figure below, the median, single-parent white family had roughly twice as much wealth as the median, two-parent black or Latino families.
This recent Demos report argues that “family structure does not drive racial inequity, and racial inequity persists regardless of family structure.” In short, the financial benefits of marriage are failing to close the racial mobility gap.
Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in 1967: “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” So, considering factors such as personal rights, happiness, and disparate benefits to different people, the Facebook status of the relationship between marriage and economic mobility might just be: “It’s complicated.”