Colonial era[ edit ] The first laws criminalizing marriage and sex between whites and non whites were enacted in the colonial era in the English colonies of Virginia and Maryland , which depended economically on unpaid labor such as slavery. At first, in the s, the first laws in Virginia and Maryland regulating marriage between whites and blacks only pertained to the marriages of whites with black and mulatto slaves and indentured servants. In , Maryland enacted a law which criminalized such marriages—the marriage of Irish-born Nell Butler to an African slave was an early example of the application of this law. Virginia was the first English colony in North America to pass a law forbidding free blacks and whites to intermarry, followed by Maryland in This was the first time in American history that a law was invented that restricted access to marriage partners solely on the basis of "race", not class or condition of servitude. Moreover, after the independence of the United States had been established, similar laws were enacted in territories and states which outlawed slavery.