Crimes of Passion: The Regulation of Interracial Sex in Washington, 1855-1950

37 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2012 Last revised: 13 Jun 2012

See all articles by Jason Gillmer

Jason Gillmer

Gonzaga University - School of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2011

Abstract

This Article explores the regulation of interracial sex and marriage in the state of Washington from its time as a territory through the first half of the twentieth century. Drawing on local records rather than canonical cases, the Article's main thesis is that, although the criminal bans on the practice were short-lived, Washingtonians used legal mechanisms to discourage and penalize interracial families in much the same way. The result of these efforts may not have been prison time; but, lawyers and judges regularly used the law to ensure that wealth and property remained in the hands of whites rather than racial minorities. In doing so, the legal system became an effective deterrent to interracial relationships, perpetuating existing notions of race that privileged whiteness over other racial groups.

Keywords: race, interracial, legal history

Suggested Citation

Gillmer, Jason, Crimes of Passion: The Regulation of Interracial Sex in Washington, 1855-1950 (December 1, 2011). Gonzaga Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 2, p. 393, 2012; Gonzaga University School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1802569

Jason Gillmer (Contact Author)

Gonzaga University - School of Law ( email )

721 N. Cincinnati Street
Spokane, WA 99220-3528
United States

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