In the finale of 1923, Zane’s wife, Alice, is arrested for violating the Montana statute against miscegenation, which prohibited interracial marriages. Alice is played by Joy Osmanski in 1923.
In the finale, Zane goes to meet his wife, Alice, and his two children. His daughter notices a man spying on them at night, but Zane and Alice do not pay much heed to it.
The next day, peace officers show up at their doorstep and arrest Alice, a woman of Asian descent, for marrying a white man. When Zane tries to stop them, they beat him up and leave him bleeding outside his house.
Anti-miscegenation laws in Montana
In Montana, in the year 1923, miscegenation, that is, relationships and marriage between people of different races were illegal; white people could not marry African Americans or Asians in this state.
There were discussions and bills created regarding an anti-miscegenation law in Montana since 1864.
However, a law could not be formed; as these bills included Native Americans in the list of races white people could not marry; a lot many people already had Native American spouses and were opposed to the creation of such a law.
The law was formed and came into effect only in 1909, as the bill introduced by Senator Charles Muffley did not prohibit marriages between whites and Native Americans.
Marriages between white people and African Americans or Asians were declared illegal; the ones who performed such marriages were penalized. As seen in 1923, Alice is arrested and taken away for marrying Zane.
When was the law repealed?
The law was upheld by the Montana Supreme Court in 1942 when the validity of Shun T. Takahashi and his widow’s marriage was questioned in a case regarding his estate’s administration.
The court declared the marriage between Takahashi, a Japanese man, and his white wife “utterly null and void”.
Finally, in 1953, the law was repealed when Representatives John M. Schiltz and Scott Pfohl introduced a bill to repeal the miscegenation statute of 1909 in the legislative session.
Then, in 1967, the United States Supreme Court also ruled that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional, as these laws violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
After the ruling, anti-miscegenation laws in the others states were also repealed. Alabama was the last state in the United States to repeal the law in 2000.