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Remembering Mr. and Mrs. Loving

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Published on Jun 9, 2010

June 12th Loving Day.
This year will mark the forty-third anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, a Supreme Court case many of us born post-1967 may not be aware of.
In June of 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were married in Washington, D.C. Six months after having been married, the couple was arrested, convicted of a felony, and sentenced to a year in jail. Their crime? Richard was white. Mildred was black.

The trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that the Lovings leave the State and not return to Virginia together for 25 years. He stated in an opinion that:

"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."

The Lovings moved to Washington, D.C. (where they lived for 8 years) and appealed their conviction on the grounds that Virginia law (The Racial Integrity Law of 1924) violated their rights to equal protection of the law and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Their case went through many levels of the justice system and their appeal was denied every time. On June 12, 1967, their case appeared before the United States Supreme Court. The Court decided unanimously (9-0) to strike down Virginia's laws, as well as statutes in 17 other states that still forbade interracial marriages. Finally, after nine years of struggle, the Lovings won the right to live together as husband and wife in their home state. In the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren, "Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry a person of another race resides within the individual and cannot be infringed on by the State. These convictions must be reversed. It is so ordered."

The Loving's case not only won them their freedom to love, but it also granted the same freedom to every interracial couple in every state in America. At the time of the Loving decision, seventeen states from Delaware to Texas had laws banning interracial couples. Loving v. Virginia (1967) made it illegal for these states to enforce those laws. This ended a long era of laws that were enforced in forty-two states over the course of American history. These laws did not only apply to black people and white people; many states also restricted relationships with Asians, Native Americans, Indians, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups.

The freedom to love is something most of us take for granted. Like many other freedoms, the right for interracial couples to be together was fought for and won as a part of our civil rights. The Lovings, like Rosa Parks, played an important role in freeing us from laws that punished people for no other reason than the color of their skin.

So let us all celebrate this upcoming holiday on June 12. You can celebrate just by remembering and celebrating your rights in any way you see fit. You can invite your friends over for a barbeque or a dinner party and make a toast, or spend some time with someone you love. The important thing is to make Loving Day your own, and to spread the word to others who might not know about it yet. Loving Day is a great reason to celebrate. On June 12 this year, and every year, we should celebrate our legal right to love a person of any race.

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