it’s been rather remiss of me to let the 40th anniversary of loving vs virginia go by without a comment.
on june 12, 1967, the us supreme court declared virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, the racial integrity act of 1924, unconstitutional, thereby ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the united states. interestingly various statutes remained unenforced in some states until as recently as 2000, with alabama being the last to rescind theirs. i’m including below the statement released by mildred loving on the 40th anniversary of the announcement
Loving for All
By Mildred Loving*
Prepared for Delivery on June 12, 2007,
The 40th Anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia Announcement
When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t
to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be
We didn’t get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there. We did it there
because the government wouldn’t allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we
grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and
build our family. You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that
time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who
should marry whom.
When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no
intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and
lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what
Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own
bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the “crime” of marrying the wrong
kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed.
The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared:
“”Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed
them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there
would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he
did not intend for the races to mix.” He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to
suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.
We left, and got a lawyer. Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a
cause. We were fighting for our love.
Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn’t have to fight alone.
Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and
so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the
freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the
Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized
as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free
men,” a “basic civil right.”
My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and
right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep
people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have
lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices
have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they
have a right to marry.
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that
I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to
have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the
“wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no
matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to
marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over
others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court
case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so
many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the
freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.
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