Lynn Schmidt | June 15, 2021
My father was the son of Polish immigrants. He was a Roman Catholic. My mother was the daughter of Solvak immigrants. She was a Byzantine Catholic. He grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey. She grew up in South Philadelphia. They were told, by my paternal grandparents, that they were not allowed to date, let alone get married. My father was only to marry another Polish girl. My paternal grandmother was so insistent, she refused to attend my parents’ wedding.
Sounds like she missed out on a wonderful celebration. She also missed out on getting to know my mother, who was a loving, generous and kind woman. What my paternal grandmother did not allow herself to find out was that they had more in common than she realized. My mother knew how to cook perogies and loved to polka dance.
My parents’ story is not uncommon. Interracial, interethnic and interfaith marriages have long been discouraged and sometimes even forbidden by parents (and defied by their children). But research shows that marriages between different races are on the rise. Americans are also more likely to marry a spouse of a different religion now as well.
There is another “inter” relationship that has entered the social picture. That relationship is inter-political or cross-political. While interracial and interfaith marriages are on the rise, the same cannot be said for these inter-political relationships.
In 2016, researchers Eitan Hersh and Yair Ghitza counted married couples among registered voters. They focused on registered voters in the 30 states that track voters’ party affiliation. They found that 30% of couples were politically mixed, meaning they did not share a party identification. Most of the marriages were between fellow partisans or independents, and 9% of marriages were between Democrats and Republicans. In 2020, four years after that survey, only 21% of marriages were found to be politically mixed. That meager 9% of marriages between Democrats and Republicans dropped to 4%. Partisanship seems to be invading even the nonpolitical areas of our lives.