In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested in Virginia and charged with violating that state’s anti-miscegenation laws prohibiting inter-racial marriages. With the assistance of the ACLU, the couple fought all the way to the US Supreme Court which overruled their conviction in June of 1967, 42 years ago.
According to blogger Nick Covington, the trial court that found them guilty cited religious “truths”:
“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.”
My wife and I are white folks of Scandinavian ancestry, but this fall we expect to become grandparents of a “beautiful brown baby”, in the words of my now deceased mother. When mom was dying of ALS, she expressed few regrets, but she confided to Guni, my black son-in-law-to-be, that she was sorry that she wouldn’t get to meet her great-grandkids, the “beautiful brown babies” to be born of his marriage to our daughter Greta.
So, when the child is born sometime around Oct 1, one of the prayers I will offer will be thanks for mom’s compassionate heart. I will also remember the words of our friend, Sandra from Barbados, who said life is good “when you’re all mixed up” referring to her own pot pourri ethnicity of English, African, and East Indian.
While vestiges of racism remain, America has clearly traveled far down the road of racial justice in the 42 years since the arrest of the Lovings. But interest in the Loving’s story is rekindled as precedent for the analogous struggle for gay marriage. Although she has since passed away, Mildred Loving herself stirred the debate with her own statement two years ago on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in her own case (quoted in Mountain Sage blog):
My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.
I’m not sure about imbedding video in this blog, so I will simply refer you to another blog, Down with Tyranny, to listen to Nanci Griffith’s title song from her album to be released on June 9, The Loving Kind.