Changing face of marriage.
Sharon and Jeff Taska married in June 1992, more than two decades after the Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, declared state laws banning interracial marriage unconstitutional. Most Americans still believed blacks and whites should not date, let alone tie the knot.
During the ceremony, which took place in a church in Gary, a black woman who had not been invited to the event stopped Sharon as she walked down the aisle and said, “It’s not too late.”
As Sharon, who is black, recalls, she thought about clobbering the woman.
“In my mind, I thought about snatching her out of the aisle and saying, ‘It’s too late for you right now! Bang!’” the retired schoolteacher said during a recent interview at her home in rural Elkhart County, where she and Jeff, who is white, have lived for the better part of two decades.
After the wedding, Sharon said, some of her co-workers stopped talking to her.
To this day, the couple, who now have a daughter, tend to attract attention in public, Sharon, 59, said, but, overall, people’s attitudes toward interracial couples have softened considerably.
“You still have people that act funny when Sharon and Jeff walk through the door,” Jeff Taska said. “And shame on them, we need to get beyond that. But it’s gotten better.”
The data seem to back that up.
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, marriage between people of a different race or ethnicity, known as “intermarriage,” is on the rise nationally.
In 2010, the survey states, 15.1 percent of new marriages and 8.4 percent of marriages overall were between people of a different race or ethnicity, more than double the share in 1980, in both cases.
Not only that, but 43 percent of Americans — and 61 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds — view more intermarriage as a good thing for society, compared with about 11 percent who hold the opposite opinion, the survey reports.
And the percentage of Americans who now agree that it is OK for blacks and whites to date is 83 percent, up from just 48 percent in 1987.
Also, according to the study:
- People who are younger, more educated or more liberal tend to be more positive about intermarriage than people who are older, less educated or more conservative.
- Blacks (51 percent) and Hispanics (48 percent) are more likely to say the increase in intermarriage has been a change for the better in society than whites (40 percent).
- Asians (27.7 percent) are more likely to “marry out” than Hispanics (25.7 percent), blacks (17.1 percent), or whites (9.4 percent).
Pew published the survey, based primarily on analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2008-2010 American Community Survey and three nationwide telephone surveys, in February.