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.
Judge Leon M. Bazile, Indictment for Felony
Those infamous words were uttered from the bench on 6 January 1959 by that despicable and without redeeming qualities macaroon, Leon Bazile. The two people he was addressing were Mildred and Richard Loving a married couple, who had been charged with a felony under Virginia’s miscegenation laws, or, as they liked to call it The Racial Integrity Act of 1924.
What made Mildred and Richard special?
Mildred was of African-American and Native-American descent.
Richard was just a plain old American white boy, special cause he was pure don’t you know.
No one there ‘bouts in Central Point, Virginia where they had grown up, dated and fallen in love thought too much about their carousing. Apparently, this happened quite often, white boys sowing their oats and all. The problem was, when 18 year old Mildred became pregnant Richard wanted to do the right thing, not just do the right thing because there was a baby on the way, but because they honestly loved one another. Knowing there was no way to marry in Virginia, the two of them headed over to Washington, D.C. and married, in June of 1958. They returned to their home in Central Point and someone, not liking they were now co-habitating and oh no, they actually made it legal and all, so like all good white folks will do when purity is involved, well they complained to the sheriff.
From this point on, their life becomes hell. After they were found guilty by that asshat of a Judge, they received a one-year jail sentence that was suspended on the condition they leave Virginia for 25 years. Terrible for the young couple, not able to travel home together to see family, transplanted to the big city and unable to find work, plagued by money problems and lonely finally they wrote to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy. AG Kennedy passes their letter to ACLU and Attorney Bernard Cohen. From here history is made.
The Loving’s were simple people, simple in their desires and wants. They wanted to be married, raise their children in safety and in the embrace of their family. They wanted nothing more than to return to the small town in Virginia they had been raised, where they had met and fell in love. The Loving’s didn’t attend oral arguments, despite living in Washington. Their attorney asked Mr. Loving if there was anything he should say to the judges, any message he should deliver; in reply Mr. Loving said this,
“Mr. Cohen, tell the Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”
His attorney delivered that message to the court. This ultimately was the courts response.
Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing for the Unanimous Supreme Court of the United States
Happy Loving Day June 12, 1967
Forty-six years ago today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled anti-miscegenation laws violated both the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This ruling not only affected Virginia but all states that continued to carry these laws on their books.
It took nine long years, ultimately the Loving’s returned to their beloved Central Point. They didn’t intend to become activist, they only intended to be married and spend a lifetime loving each other, raising their children.
Their sacrifice changed history and created legal precedent. Their choice to fight for what was right swept away one piece of ignorance, it didn’t change hearts, it didn’t change minds but it prevented ignorant hearts and minds from legislating their petty ignorance.
Perhaps we can take a page from their book, remember their sacrifice and start sweeping some more petty ignorance off the table and out of the law books.
What say you?
Happy Loving Day June 12, 2013
Food for thought, without Loving -v- Virginia I could not have done this on 10-July-1999 and I certainly could not live in Texas while continuing to to do it.