Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Virginia County’s Official List Of Races Includes ‘Aryan,’ ‘Hebrew’ and ‘Jew’

Attorneys seeking to overturn a Virginia law requiring couples to list their races on marriage licenses has released one county’s official list of acceptable races, which includes over 200 options — from “Assyrian” to “Zoroastrian.”

The federal suit, filed Thursday in the Eastern District of Virginia, claims that the race requirement is “offensive,” “unconstitutional” and “reflective of a racist past,” NBC News reported. The plaintiffs are three couples were denied a marriage license because they refused to disclose their race.

The lawsuit also states that different counties in Virginia have different lists of possibilities. Rockbridge County, in the rural west of the state, has over 200 “approved races.” The county’s list, released on the website of plaintiff’s attorney Victor M. Glasberg, includes several outdated or unsettling terms, including “Aryan,” “Mulatto” and “Quadroon.”

There are also several variations for Jewish couples, such as “Hebrew,” “Israelite,” “Jew,” “Ladina (Ladino),” “Semitic” and, possibly, “Cosmopolitan.”

Glasberg and his clients have compared their case to Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 lawsuit that eventually struck down a ban on interracial marriage in that state and around the country. Seven other states — Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota and New Hampshire — also have laws requiring marriage license applicants to state their race.

A spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring told The New York Times that it was “not readily apparent why state law requires the collection of this data on the marriage license application.”

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.