November 3rd, 2000

Alabama Repeals Ban on Interracial Marriage, Although Majority of White Voters Oppose Repeal

On November 3, 2000, Alabama voters approved Amendment 667 to the Alabama Constitution of 1901, annulling and setting aside a provision that banned interracial marriage. A feature of the state constitution enacted in 1901, Section 102 declared it illegal for the state legislature to pass any law that would “authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a Negro or descendant of a Negro.” Though the provision was rendered unenforceable in 1967 when the Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia struck down all state laws prohibiting interracial marriage, it could only be removed from the Alabama constitution by voter referendum.

The 2000 election marked the first time voters had the opportunity to annul the marriage provision, as an earlier attempt to initiate a vote had failed to pass the state senate. Representative Alvin Holmes, who sponsored the bill on both attempts, said even an unenforceable discriminatory law was detrimental: “Just to have it on the books doesn't make the state look good.” Though the annulment amendment passed, 41% of Alabama’s majority-white electorate voted to retain the language. Alabama thus became the last state to invalidate its constitution’s ban on interracial marriage, following South Carolina, which had voted to remove its ban in 1998.