Unable to Marry the One You Love

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryOne day you meet that someone special (in this case I am talking about a man and a woman). You get to know them, you live with them, you date them, you learn to trust them, and you both fall in love. You share many interests, you care for each others’ needs, and you want to get married. Normally this should not be a problem. But in the State of Alabama it is a major problem if your spouse-to-be is an undocumented. Yes, 54 out of 67 counties in Alabama will not issue a marriage license if your bride or groom is not a U.S. citizen, not a legal permanent resident (what if they are a temporary resident?), and has no Social Security number. In other words, if your loved one has no legal status in the United States you cannot get married in most of Alabama. To put it mildly, these local laws are a violation of one of the most fundamental rights Americans should have—choosing the ones they love and wish to marry. If a state can violate this provision, then there will be no end to what other rights states can violate.

Fortunately, someone has come along to challenge these local statutes. The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed suit against these laws making it clear they are unconstitutional. Regardless of what a person’s immigration status is, a U.S. citizen has every right to marry the one they want. This has always been the case, and no state should say otherwise. We must remember that it was less than two generations ago that people of different races and ethnic groups were not always allowed to marry each other in most states. Fortunately all of these laws were struck down, and now there are no laws in the land that prohibit people of different races and ethnic groups from marrying each other. Even Alabama’s recently passed state immigration law does not prohibit marriage between a U.S. citizen and someone who is undocumented. These local laws are separate from the state immigration law, but nevertheless these local laws make the social atmosphere in Alabama that much more poisonous. That immigration status should be made a reason for being unable to marry someone is odious to the institution of love and marriage.

It says so much about what is wrong with Alabama as it does with Georgia and Arizona—states that use the issue of the “illegals” to prohibit the rights of not only the undocumented but even of U.S. citizens. It all beckons back to the concept of “separate but equal” where separation was anything but equal. But most Americans do not want to turn the clock back 100 years, and so I hope that the Southern Poverty Law Center will be successful in striking these local laws down. NO ONE should ever be prohibited from marrying the one they love in the United States.

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