March 12, 1999
MONTGOMERY, Alabama (CNN) -- The Alabama House of Representatives is set to vote on a controversial bill that would repeal a ban on interracial marriages.
Last year, a similar measure died in a legislative committee. But on Wednesday, a House panel voted to send the proposed constitutional amendment to the full House for consideration.
Alabama is the last state in the union to have such a law on its books. Although the state stopped enforcing it decades ago, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such laws unconstitutional, the fact that it has not been officially repealed remains a sore point for many in Alabama.
"These kinds of things represent oppression and slavery and discrimination against black people," said Rep. Alvin Holmes, who introduced the bill to the legislature.
Major Cox, who is black, and his wife, Margaret, who is white, would also like to see the law repealed, although they have been married for 18 years.
"Taking it off (the books) will be a recognition of the progress that the state is making," she said.
If the bill is approved by the House and Senate, it will clear the way for a statewide vote.
A recent poll in Alabama indicated high support for the bill. About 63 percent of those who responded to the poll favored lifting the ban on interracial marriage while 26 percent were opposed. Ten percent said they were not sure or had no reply.
State Rep. Phil Crigler said that, although he personally opposes interracial marriages, he will vote for the bill. He said the bill was just racial grandstanding, since the law prohibiting such marriages is not enforced.
"The virtue of this (bill) passing or failing it not going to change things in Alabama at all," Crigler said.
A more hotly contested issue in the state may ultimately be same-sex marriage. Some members of the House panel reportedly balked at approving the interracial marriage bill until they were assured it would not open the door for homosexual marriages in the state.
Randall Kenan's Journey to a center of a race
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