Fifty years ago today, our marriage became legal across the United States

by Joey deVilla on June 12, 2017

BREAKIN’ THE LAW! BREAKIN’ THE LAW! (Before 1967, anyway.)

Until June 12, 1967, sixteen U.S. states still had anti-miscegenation laws on their books. What happened on that day is now goes by a very Dickensian name: the Supreme Court decision known as Loving v. Virginia.

The “Virginia” in the case name is the same state whose original state song lyrics included the line “There’s where I labored so hard for old Massa,” and the signature line of the chorus, “There’s where this old darkey’s heart am long’d to go.”

“Loving” refers to Mildred and Richard Loving, who had been sentenced to prison for a year for the crime of marrying each other. That act was in violation of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which banned marriage between people classified as “white” and those classified as “colored”. In court, they had to plead guilty to “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.”

On this day in 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Racial Integrity Act and similar laws were unconstitutional, and this ruling was also used as a precedent in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that made same-sex marriage legal countrywide.

Today, we call June 12 Loving Day. While it’s victory for everyone, it’s especially so for me and Anitra, since it means we’re not committing a crime simply by being married.

Thank you, Mildred and Richard Loving, and Happy Loving Day, everyone!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaleberg June 12, 2017 at 10:12 pm

People have forgotten how recently some of this racial crap was swept away. Fifty years is not all that long ago. They’ve also forgotten that it wasn’t just about whites and people with African ancestry, but also about people with Asian ancestry. Some of that stuff on the books was pretty creepy, and some of it is still around today. Look at that development on Long Island that just a few months ago got slapped down for covenants that made it hard to sell to people without German ancestry. You weren’t even allowed to list your property with a realtor or advertise in a newspaper or on a website lest some Frenchy or Italian introduce racial impurities.

Let’s hope in another 50 years people will be amazed to learn that there were still old folks around who remember when gay marriage was illegal.

Joey deVilla June 13, 2017 at 10:53 am

Let’s hope indeed, Kaleberg.

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