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Can China rise peacefully?

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, gave a talk on China last week at an event organized by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He predicts that China’s economic growth will lead to its military growth, which in turn, will result in conflicts between the U.S. and China in the future, be it 20 or 30 years from now.

“It’s a myth that many China scholars and policy makers think China is different from the U.S. and other European great powers,” said Mearsheimer.

He argued that when China grows more powerful economically, it will translate that economic might into military might and will try to dominate Asia, and meanwhile, the U.S., the hegemony in the West Hemisphere, “will go great length to prevent China from becoming a regional hegemony in Asia.”

Mearsheimer said his theory on the power of states in international politics is based on the following five assumptions:

  • principal actors in international politics are states;
  • all states have military offensive capacity;
  • the intentions of the states are hard to predict and measure;
  • principal goal for every state is to survive; and
  • states will maximize their chance for survival.

He said these assumptions lead states to three forms of behavior, namely

  • states fear each other;
  • the best way for a state to survive is to protect itself; and
  • the best way to do the prection is to be very powerful.

“China has been a highly aggressive country in history, just like other great powers in the world,” Mearsheimer said.

The international forum is an anarchy system, he emphasized, citing that the fittest survives.

“When China was weak, the other great powers took advantage of it,” he said. “It’s that experience of humiliation that makes it perfectly clear to China that it can’t let it happen again.”

He said the best way to ensure that is for China to be very powerful.

“To put it in slightly different terms, it’s for China to dominate Asia.”

But the U.S. and other countries in Asia will try to prevent China from dominating Asia, he said.

He stated that in its effort to maintain its hegemony, the U.S. succeeded in dismantling other great powers in history, including the Imperial Germany, the Nazi Germany, the Imperial Japan and Russia. It will try to contain China as well.

As China continues to grow and become stronger, the competition between the U.S. and China will be more intense. It will eventually escalate to conflicts, he concluded.

“Anything the U.S. does to defend itself will be offensive to China, and vice versa,” he said.

Mearsheimer disputed the theories of co-relation balancing, the importance of economic ties, and the “myth” that Confucian ideology deems China a peace loving country. He said at time of conflicts, politics trumpets everything.

“I’m not anti China or anti America,” he declared. “If I were an advisor of national security to the President of China, I would tell him to get the U.S. out of Asia. By the same token, if I were an advisor to the President of the United States, I would advise him to keep China out as well.”

He warned that “If China continues to grow as it did in the past 30 years and becomes a giant Hong Kong, it’s going to be unstoppable.”

“I hope China will stop growing,” he said to me when I interviewed him, and several times during his speech.  That sounded quite anti China to me.

For more information on his theories, check out his book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Golden Globe Winner Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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Showcase of future

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

photo 2I attended the joint performances of students from the High School affiliated with the Renmin University (Ren Da Fu Zhong in Chinese, RDFZ) from Beijing and Chicago Public Schools. They performed at the auditorium of the Walter Payton College Prep High School (WPCPHS) on Wednesday. I was blown away by the high-level skills demonstrated by RDFZ students, aged 11 to 17.

I interviewed Mr. Shen Xianzhang, Deputy Principal and co-leader of the 66-member performing troupe. I must say I was intrigued and impressed.

cicShen said the troupe will tour several major cities in the U.S. and will give 14 performances. The program staged at WPCPHS was their “short” list due to time limits.

Shen advised that RDFZ has a number of clubs, such as dance, martial arts, acrobatics, choir, etc., which attract approximately 600 students. The troupe on this tour is consisted of merely 10% of the students participating in such extra curriculum activities.

I feel these students’ performance can be praised as semi-professional.

Having been trained as a ping pong player in grade school, I can tell how much time and work they must have put into their select area of activity in order to reach this level.

Shen proudly mentioned a number of “first prizes” students at RDFZ have won over the years, and how many countries they had toured to give performances.

photo 2I know RDFZ is one of the top schools in China. It has a total of 5,000 students, a large pool to select talents, not to mention that those who are able to get into the school have proved themselves outstanding to start with.

Still, talents only would not have delivered such great skills in dancing, martial arts, and acrobatics.

Dedication, hard work, and consistent practices did. And discipline. It also means that they are not just book smart or buried in the preparation for college entrance examinations.

Over the years, as the generation of the one-child policy grow up, I have heard, and lamented myself, the little “emperors and empresses” who are self-centered and ill-prepared to deal with the challenges and hardships in life.

photo 1Here they are, a group of representatives of their generation. They have led me to look at them, and their peers, from a different perspective and with delight, hope, and expectations.

I asked Shen how he felt about the “amateur” performances given by students from CPS.

“I’m glad and moved to see American students dance traditional Chinese folk dances and sing Chinese songs,” he said without hesitation.

His words and sincerity touched me.

I noticed the disparity in the level and skills of the CPS students and neglected to realize the significance of their dancing Chinese folk dances and singing Chinese songs in the celebration of the Chinese New Year in Chicago, the heartland of the United States.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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Call for action – Honor Diaries

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

honor diaryHonor Diary, a documentary film denouncing the cruelty against women in the name of culture and family honor, will be shown at the Chicago Int’l Film Festival (CIFF).

Nine courageous women’s rights advocates voiced their stance against gender inequality, “honor killing,” female body mutilation, and forced marriage in this film.

“Culture is no excuse for abuse,” said Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Executive Producer of Honor Diaries. “I am proud to join these courageous women to speak the truth.”

Some numbers the film presented serve strongly as wake up calls—such actions are not only in the Arabic world, but here in the U.S. as well.

“In male-dominated cultures, like Saudi Arabia, women and girls are treated like property, forced into marriage, and suffer female genital mutilation,” the film states.  “Now, these barbaric practices are coming to America, with 3,000 cases of forced marriage occurring in the US over the past two years, and 150,000 – 200,000 girls in the United States at risk of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation.”

Star advocates in Honor Diaries

Star advocates in Honor Diaries

As I watched the film at the press screening at the CIFF, I couldn’t help from thinking how similar women were regarded in the traditional Chinese culture in that they were supposed to obey their father, husband, or son.

These women advocates, including the “expert interviewees,” such as fellow writer and friend Qanta Ahmed (In the Land of Invisible Women,) should be hailed for their courage and efforts.

“When women suffer in silence, they suffer alone, and their suffering grows,” said Raheel Raza, President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow and co-star of Honor Diaries. “Only when women come together and break the silence can this suffering end. ”

Honor Diaries will be shown at AMC River East at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13 and 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15. Producer Paula Kweskin will be at the screenings and do Q & A.

Visit http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com for more information.  

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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No Equality Yet

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

jobAt a recent lunch with Jane, an American woman executive in a large media company and Zhang, a Chinese male colleague, also in the media, we talked about women’s positions in China and the U.S.

I have always admired Jane and liked her enthusiasm, openness, and ready laughter, especially considering her high-pressure top management position in a fast-paced industry. I asked her how she managed her daily job since she always appeared calm and at ease.

She laughed.

“The busier I am, the more productive I am,” she said.

She added that she loved challenges and solving problems. She also acknowledged that it was not possible for a woman to get to her position before, stating that the changing times had enabled her to move up the corporate ladder.

Then Jane asked about women’s positions in China.

“Men and women are equal in China,” Zhang answered as I struggled to put my thoughts together.

I raised my eyebrows and stared at him.

pay“Well, when women apply for jobs, they usually don’t get hired as easily as men,” Zhang added after a pause. “That’s only because of the concern about women’s commitment to work,” he explained. “Once a woman starts a family and has a child, employers worry that her work would be interrupted. But once women are in the workforce, they receive equal treatment, with equal pay and salary increase.”

I doubted if Zhang realized the contradiction in his statement.

“I think women in China enjoy a much stronger position than their average counterparts in many other Asian countries,” I cut in. “But if you look at higher positions in the government or corporations, there are not that many women at all.”

With that said, I admitted that growing up in a family of strong women, and hearing Mao’s slogan that “women hold half the sky” all the time, I never sensed or was even aware of the discrimination against women until I entered the workforce and encountered discrimination first hand.

In the early 1980s, college graduates received assigned jobs. Mine was to handle the import and export of films at a large company in Beijing. But when I reported to work and revealed I was a woman, not a man as the company requested, they banished me to do film subtitle translations in a subsidiary. I fought four years in vain to change my job, and in the end, escaped to the U.S. to do my graduate studies.

“It was only after I came to the U.S. that I learned about feminism and realized how far women had come, both in the West and East,” I told Jane.

There is no doubt that women’s positions have been improving continuously since the ‘80s, both in China and the U.S. However, we still face many challenges when it comes to equality between men and women, and we still have a long way to go.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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The Civil War in Syria and the U.S.

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Outside Syrian Capital 75  

The horrific civil war that has raged in Syria for the past two years, has pitched the dying days of a brutal dictatorship against a popular uprising, similar to the revolutions that have visited many Arab countries, over the past few years in what is now called the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring in Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Egypt is quickly turning into the dark days of winter. The peaceful transfer from military dictatorship to democracy is not easy.  In most of those countries, the revolution was started as peaceful demonstrations against repression and hopelessness. Demands for reform fell on deaf ears, even though the demands were reasonable for the most part, and were generated by the intelligentsia of those countries.  However things did not turn out as planned. The largest country in the region Egypt had democratic elections, which bought the Muslim brotherhood to power and one of their own as president, Mohamed Morsi. Those who started the revolution were not expecting to step backwards by the appointment of religious Muslim leaders who clearly are following an agenda of religious intolerance, suppression of women’s rights, and Sharia law. Of course when you have a democratic election involving all of the people, which in Egypt’s case means 80 million or so, many of whom are illiterate and living in the far-flung corners of the country where only the Muslim brotherhood had taken the time and trouble to provide social services, it is to be expected that the local people would vote based upon their experiences.  It is quite likely that turmoil, violence and repression will continue in all of these countries for many years to come. Ultimately the world may not see new democracies but perhaps new military strongmen, leading to the appointment of the next dictators.  The rest of the world can only look on and hope for something better.

The war in Syria has become more brutal with every passing day. The Syrian regime is indiscriminately killing armed insurgents as well as its own innocent citizens as it clings on to power.  What will be the end result?  The continued slide into sectarian violence, old religious animosities and intolerance, and the destruction of the country both physically and economically.

There was much coverage in the media recently about the fact that, in the past two years, the violence in Syria has cost 60,000 lives.  How awful.  But the violence in the US over the past two years has cost over 60,000 lives.  Not, thankfully from bombs, airstrikes and rockets, but our country is in a state of perpetual civil war these days. 300 million guns in the hands of our citizens are leading to the inevitable daily fatal violence.  In our country, the Civil War is gang against gang, or the killing of innocent bystanders as the gangs fight it out for drug sales territory.  Also, we have the continuous deaths from random killings by mentally disturbed or just plain angry people seeking revenge.  We are told that there can be no possibility of amending our constitutional rights to bear arms, as if the founding fathers had in mind the Newtown killings of school children, or the mentally disturbed killer of innocents in a Colorado cinema.

 1214 Sandy Hook School Tragedy 50,jpg

Our 30,000 annual deaths from gun violence included over 10,500 killings by handguns last year. This compares to 58 in the UK and less than 100 in every other developed Western nation.

What is going on in America is crazy.  Everyone agrees that hunters and those that wish to enjoy shooting ranges should be allowed to own guns. In many other countries those owners are quite happy to keep them under lock and key at the local police station or their local club.  Nowhere in the world do sportsmen own or need semi-automatic weapons with magazines holding up to 100 Bullets.  It may be sport to hunt deer or other animals during a limited season, but semi-automatic weapons would never be used for this purpose. They are designed for military purposes to kill. Of course the majority of deaths by gun violence in the US are from suicide or accident.  How many families have had their lives ruined by an accidental killing of a loved one or a small child?  These are not rare occurrences; they hardly warrant a few lines in the newspapers these days because they are so common.

Unfortunately these killings are going to continue. We should not be shocked at the next school horror, or the death of an innocent schoolgirl at a bus stop, or attacks by mentally deranged people in cinemas and theatres, supermarkets or car parks. This is part of the American way of life today. There is no solution because our political leaders are corrupted by their fear of not being re-elected in the next Congressional go around. So whatever happens, they know they must not upset the NRA, who have made it clear that they will attack any member of Congress who votes against their platform.

There will probably be a new bill passed with great fanfare by our legislators. It will be a watered-down affair that will not really address the true issues of gun violence in our country, nor will it stop the killings from continuing.

The Syrian Civil War will eventually come to an end.  The Assad regime will fall, probably to be replaced by religious warlords keeping the country in continuous chaos for many years to come. However the killings will gradually halt, and the lives lost over the last couple of years will not be repeated.

In the US however, we cannot look to any similar relief.  Our 30,000 deaths per annum from gun violence will probably continue and may even get worse.  Who knows? Will our Congress act to stop this insanity?  As the saying goes, “not in my lifetime.”

 

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

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Ping Pong, directed by Hartford

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
Les D'Arcy

Les D’Arcy

Have you ever seen anyone learning to play ping pong as therapy in a nursing home and then go on to play in the World Championship competition? Or a 100-year-old woman, arriving at a competition in a wheelchair and playing by stationing in one position, but hitting the ball back as far as her arm could reach? Or an elder man gasping for air but managing to win a medal in the men’s singles and championship in men’s doubles at the World Championship games?

Ping Pong, a documentary film directed by Hugh Hartford that I watched yesterday at the Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival, showed just that. The charming 80-minute film featured eight ping pong players aged 85 to 100 who participated in the World Championship ping pong competition held in Inner Mongolia, China.

Dorothy DeLow

Dorothy DeLow

Coming from all over the world, these senior players, among more than 2,000 participants at various age groups at the competition, showed their prowess and determination. They were competing for medals in the age group 80 and above. We followed them to their homes in different parts of the world and watched them proudly show off the medals of gold, silver or bronze that they had won in the past, some quite a few dozens. At this advanced age, however, their movements were hindered, breathing short, but their competitive spirits didn’t diminish and their love for the sports and life continued to soar.

“I want to die playing ping pong,” one of them said. “But not soon,” she quickly added.

The audience chuckled.

An avid ping pong player myself, I watched them play with determination. I was amazed and amused. A few times, I  found myself clapping my hands in the theatre as the people sitting around me smiled.

The film had a light touch, and many times, made the audience laugh. It showed more than being competitive at an old age—it is about living and loving, about winning medals in the passage of life.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

 

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Reading ‘Sacred Hunger’

Friday, December 21st, 2012
Cover of "Sacred Hunger"

Cover of Sacred Hunger

Our reading group just finished reading/discussing Barry Unsworth‘s Sacred Hunger. The novel was released in 1992 and won the Booker Award of the year in Britain.

I must admit that it took me a while getting into the 600+ novel, which covers the slave trade in the 18th century. The content is serious and heavy and the characters unlikable, except perhaps one, Paris, nephew of William Kemp and cousin of his son Erasmus, the main characters.  Paris served as doctor on the slave ship, in an effort to redeem or rather torture himself for the death of his wife and his unborn child.

It’s a heartbreaking story. What shocked me most was not only the extent of miseries that the captivated slaves suffered, but also the white crew on the ship. It was appalling how human beings could impose such pains and sufferings on each other for profit and deemed it legal.

Barry_Unsworth_2__Small__01Once I labored through the first few chapters, the book hooked me on, making it hard to put down. The novel covers a wide range of geographical territories, from Britain to Africa, and eventually to the wildness of Florida. It’s also very interesting to read the Utopian settlement that the settlers from the slave ship established, with black and white as equals. Yet as we got to know them in their 12th year of living in the jungle, the human nature of ruling over others and accumulating power and wealth was eroding and destroy the community. If the single-minded Erasmus didn’t come with the soldiers to get his revenge, it seemed the little world of equality would soon dissolve into disparity as well.

The writing is wonderful and the exploration into human nature profound. Check it out if you haven’t had a chance to read it.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberryhchildmovie.com for more information.

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A national day of programming on China

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Steve Orlins, President of NCUSCR

The National Committee on US China Relations (NCUSCR) held its 6th CHINA Town Hall, a national day of programming on China, with 60 venues across the United States on Monday, Oct. 29. Ambassador Gary Locke talked to each venue via a live webcast from Beijing, China.

I attended the venue at DePaul University in Chicago, co-hosted by the Chinese Studies Program at DePaul. The featured local speaker was Amy Celico, Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group. Celico is former Director for China Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and was scheduled to give a talk on the challenges and opportunities in America’s economic relationship with China. Hurricane Sandy prevented her from flying out of Washington D.C., and Phillip Stalley, Assistant Professor of the Political Science Department at DePaul University and a member of NCUSCR, gave a talk on China’s environmental challenges instead. Stalley did a wonderful job in recognizing China’s efforts and investments in green energy and pointing out the challenges China faces, due to its “size,” “speed of development,” and “scarcity of resources.”

Steve Orlins, President of NCUSCR, monitored the webcast. He reiterated that “the U.S.-China relations is the defining relationship of the 21st century,” a statement he emphasized at last year’s CHINA Town Hall.

Official portrait of United States Secretary o...

Official portrait of United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ambassador Locke addressed a wide range of issues related to the U.S.-China relations, pointing out the differences and opportunities of cooperation between the two countries.

“We have a shared interest in working together not only for the good of our own people, but the people of the entire Pacific Region, and indeed all the people in the world,” Locke said.

He also emphasized that “the conflicts between an arising power and an establishing power were not inevitable and the U.S. and China must forge our relations based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.”

When addressing the job situation in the U.S., Locke stated that exports from the U.S. to China had increased six folds from 2000, supporting 750,000 jobs in the U.S., while imports from China increased four folds during the same period.

“I found Ambassador Locke’s talk very informative,” Cynthia Martin, a Chicagoan working in public relations, commented.

Stalley said: “Ambassador Locke covered many important issues tonight. He talked about areas where the U.S. and China can cooperate that many people may not know, such as military cooperation, cooperation on climate changes, and joint testing on bio fuels.”

Phillip Stalley talking about China’s Environmental Challenges at CHINA Town Hall, venue at DePaul University

Stalley commented that controversial issues between the U.S. and China usually got a lot of headlines, but in reality, there were many areas of cooperation between the two countries.

The Chicago venue was well attended, and the webcast was open to the public. Other venues included Yale University, Cornell University, and Columbia University. The content of last year’s CHINA Town Hall is available at http://www.ncuscr.org/cth, including the entire webcast with Dr. Zbingiew Brzezinski and the content of talks given by “China hands” at all the venues (about 50). I believe this year’s CHINA Town Hall will be posted on its website as well.

CHINA Town Hall, organized by NCUSCR, was established to offer “an opportunity to learn about and reflect on critical areas in the U.S.-China relationship with the assistance of leading China experts.”

“Tonight’s event is wonderful,” said Li Jin, Assistant Professor and Director of Chinese Studies Program at DePaul University. “There is a trend of increased interest in China among our students. We’d love to bring the event back next year,” she continued.

Indeed, we need more venues like this to forge understanding and cooperation between the two countries. Nice job.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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An Eventful Day

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Mayor Emanuel at the Asian American Expo, photo courtesy of King Mui

The Asian American Business Expo (Expo), an annual event that promotes entrepreneurship, leadership and job creation in Chicago, took place at the Illinois International Institute (IIT) from 9:30 a.m. to 3: 30 p.m. last Saturday. Many vendors set up exhibition tables there, and many people, with a wide range of Asian and Western ethnic backgrounds, nearly 700, attended the event. Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) joined partnership with several other Asian organizations to organize the event. Shelly Ng, President of OCA Chicago chapter, chaired the Expo.

Shufen Zhao presenting at the Expo, photo courtesy of King Mui

I attended it to show support and do some networking. I was happy to run into a few friends. I was impressed by the scale of the Expo. Even Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a personal appearance early in the afternoon and addressed the audience.

I couldn’t stay that long to listen to the Mayor, however, because I had a previous commitment of giving a talk at the Chinese-American Museum of Chinatown at 2 p.m. When I left, I noticed people lining up at the entrance to wait for the Mayor. From the postings of the photos by George Mui, immediate past President of OCA in Chicago, I was able to see not only the Mayor, but many others that I didn’t have a chance to meet in person.

With staff, board members and friends at the Chinese American Museum after my talk

I rushed over to the Chinatown Museum and talked to a very engaged group of people. My talk was focused on the journey Lisa and I took as immigrants and our generational gap, to say the least, during her growing up years in the U.S. I was touched by the audience’s resonation with my story, regardless of their background. A few good questions were raised regarding my relationship with Lisa. I wish she were there addressing her perspective directly—my world traveler daughter, of course, was out of town. This time she was in New York City.

Among the staff/board members of the Museum were Soo Lon Moy, President of the Museum, Kim Tee, immediate past President, Anita Liu, and a few others. They were full of hospitality and support.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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God and the right to marry

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

People of faith have a history of denying certain groups of people the right to marry.

Mildred and Richard Loving

Mildred and Richard Loving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not all that long ago, in 1958, Virginia authorities arrested Mildred and Richard Loving and banished them from the state. Their crime: she was black; he was white. “Almighty God,” the judge said, “created races white, black, yellow, malay, and red, and he placed them on separate continents….The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

The first law preventing marriage between races was established in 1664 by the Maryland colony, which was concerned about the number of white servant women marrying slave men. Would their offspring be slave or free? Over time forty states banned some form of interracial marriage. Lower courts upheld these antimiscegenation decrees on grounds that making laws about marriage is a prerogative of the state; natural law dictates that the races not intermarry; non-whites are physically and mentally inferior; and marriage between people of different races threatens the order and peace of the community.

Not until 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, did the Supreme Court strike down (unanimously) these statutes. “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,” the court opinion stated.

Today few Americans oppose interracial marriage on the basis of God’s disapproval. Did we decide that God is more tolerant than we thought? Or did we misunderstand God’s intent?

Now the target is gays and lesbians. Scriptures against homosexuality are not as clear as many claim. I’ll let theologians argue that point and hope they cite other scriptures, such as ones saying we are to stone rebellious sons to death (Deut. 21:18-21).

For those of us who are straight, our lives daily intersect with gay women and men. They are our sons, our daughters, our colleagues, our neighbors, our friends. We know them to be active citizens, hard workers, conscientious parents, devout Christians. Many in long-term loving relationships want not just the legitimacy of their relationship to be recognized by the state but also the same legal protections heterosexuals take for granted. These include property rights, inheritance, insurance coverage, parenting rights, and life and death decisions.

It is time to grant our fellow citizens full legal rights. Including the right to marry.

Nancy Werking Poling is author of Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman. Currently she is seeking a publisher for Before it was Legal: a black-white marriage, 1945-1986.

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