Posted by: Catherine Lugg | June 12, 2011

Remembering Richard and Mildred Loving

Forty-four years ago today, the US Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia (1967), ruled that state bans on inter-racial marriage were unconstitutional.

Mildred and Richard Loving had grown up in the same neighborhood, had known each other their entire lives, and eventually fell in love. Unfortunately for them, they lived in Virginia, which banned inter-racial marriage. Undeterred, in June 1958, they married in Washington, DC and then returned home.  In October of that year, they were indicted by a Grand Jury for violating that ban. In January of 1959, they pleaded guilty to the charge and were facing one year in jail. Instead, the trial judge offered them the option of suspending the sentence for 25 years IF they left the state and would never return together that 25-year period. To be blunt, they were offered the option of exile or jail.  And so, they chose exile.

In making his judgement the trial judge observed:

“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 marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

The Lovings relocated to Washington, DC and began litigating their case, which is now a hallmark in US Civil Rights Jurisprudence. It also laid the groundwork for the current legal efforts to ensure queer people are also accorded the legal right to marry.

This new civil rights effort was heartily endorsed by Mildred Loving. Below is a video honoring both the Lovings and highlighting their case and what it means to the current effort.

Enjoy! HT to Karen Graves at Denison University.

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