40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on interracial marriage

Today, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court
decision in the case of Loving v. Virginia. Richard Loving (a white
man) and Mildred Jeter (a black women) left their home state of
Virginia to evade the state’s ban on interracial marriage. They wed
in the District of Columbia in June of 1958. When they returned to
Virginia, the couple was arrested and charged with violating the
state’s interracial marriage ban.

Leon Bazile was the trial judge for the case, and issued the
following statement:

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.

The Lovings filed a series of lawsuits based on the fourteenth
amendment; the case eventually made it all the way to the Supreme
Court. Interestingly, many churches expressed their support for the
Lovings and jumped on the bandwagon for social change (including
the Catholic Church).

Exactly 40 years ago, on June 12, 1967 the Supreme Court ruled in
favor of the Lovings and wrote:

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 discriminations. 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.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t until 2000 when the last state (Alabama)
officially lifted its ban on interracial marriage.

When reading the Supreme Court’s decision, it’s easy to see the
overlap with the marriage equality movement. Today, 40 years later,
we are still asking many of the same questions. If marriage is one
of the “basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very
existence” then why is it being denied in legislatures and court
rooms across the country to our families?

To learn more about Loving v. Virginia, or to participate in
today’s celebration visit the national Loving Day website. Be sure to
check out the special Loving v. Virginia page on the Freedom to Marry