On June 12, 1967, in the case Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court unanimously struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, thereby invalidating such laws across the country and allowing interracial couples across the nation to enter into legally recognized marriages. The plaintiffs, Mildred Delores Jeter Loving and Richard Perry Loving, were arrested in the wee hours of the morning in June 1958, confronted in their marriage bed by police officers and arrested for violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act. The couple pled guilty, received suspended sentences and were barred from the state. Several years later they reopened the case, leading to the now famous ruling. Click here to see a short film about the Lovings.
Many people celebrate June 12 as Loving Day, the day when racial barriers to marriage equality were toppled and when African Americans came a giant step closer to achieving full civil rights. Today is perhaps a particularly poignant celebration as we debate the status of same-sex marriage by recalling that less than fifty years ago whites and blacks (and people of some other racial backgrounds) could not marry in almost one-third of U.S. states. For decades, there has been a political and legal debate about the meaning of Loving and its implications for the status and rights of same-sex couples in our society. Some have argued that Loving, while useful to the same-sex marriage debate, is not a matter of simply or impulsively matching familiar figures in a test of legal reflection. Maybe not, maybe so.
The case of the Lovings was not necessarily simple or straightforward, either in law or in fact…. [continue reading -->]
-Lolita Buckner Inniss