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Interracial Marriage Then and Now

Together for decades, four couples discuss struggles and offer advice

  • Married 39 years Emotions resurface for Jean and Peter when they see their son, who is gay, and his partner confront similar prejudice. "They have a much tougher life than we ever did," says Peter. "Same-sex couples right now are the ones facing the biggest obstacles." Jean's and Peter's advice? Keep communicating well. Do not let other people make you feel bad about yourself. "And have a sense of humor about things," says Jean. "That goes a long way." — Photo by Christa Renee

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In the last 30 years, the number of interracial marriages in the U.S. has more than doubled. In 1980, 7 percent of new marriages brought together people from different racial or ethnic backgrounds, reports the Pew Research Center. Today, 15 percent of newlyweds are crossing the racial divide.

See also: Faces of the Freedom Rides: Ten who went, then and now.

Societal attitudes about these unions have also shifted. Today, nearly
two-thirds of Americans say they're fine with people marrying someone of a different race. In 1986, only 28 percent of people agreed with that

Here are the stories of four couples, married more than 30 years, who
crossed racial, societal and even legal barriers to be the pioneers that
paved the way for today's new way of thinking about interracial marriages.

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