On this day in 1967, the United States Supreme Court issued their ruling on the case of Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws banning interracial marriage across the U.S..
The case involved Mildred Loving, a woman of color, who was married to Richard Loving, who was white. In 1958, they were sentenced to a year in prison for marrying each other, in violation of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which made it a crime for people classified as white to marry people classified as colored. In court, they had to plead guilty to “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.”
The case also involved the state of Virginia, 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.”
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.
For some readers, 53 years ago may seem like pre-history, but think of it this way: Both presidential candidates were of legal voting age at the time. Actually, that does make it sound like pre-history. My point is that there are a lot of people alive today who were alive at that time (myself included, by a few months).
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!