Imagine if it were illegal for you to marry the person that you love. I know that for some people in this country that may still be the case, and if Jason and I were born of another generation it could have easily been the case for us.
Exactly 44 years ago today, the United States Supreme Court finally decided to end all laws in this country that made interracial marriage illegal. At that time, in 1967, there were still 16 states in which a man and woman of different races were not allowed to marry. In many states the crime was a felony, subject to jail time.
These two people are the Lovings, Mildred and Richard, who bravely took their case all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for their right to be together. In 1958 the police burst into their house in the middle of the night and arrested them for violation of Virginia anti-miscegenation laws. After spending time in jail, their ordeal in court began. The trial judge stated that
“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.”
He found the Lovings guilty, but decided to suspend their jail sentences if they agreed to leave Virginia. After the Supreme Court of Virginia agreed with the trial court that laws banning interracial marriage were perfectly constitutional, the Lovings worked to get the case to the Supreme Court. The following video was released on ABC News on this exact day 44 years ago.
In words that have frequently been quoted, the Court decided that
“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.”
After meeting Jason I knew that we would be celebrating this holiday every year, and hopefully down the road with children and grandchildren of our own. But I realize that not many people know about the holiday (or the court case for that matter), so I felt like it was important to also share this year’s Loving Day with you. I know that it’s easy for many to pretend that our country has gotten over whatever issues it may have had in the past with race, and if there’s ONE wish that I have for Americans it’s that we be honest about our country’s history. This was not two hundred years ago, not even a hundred years ago. This was a short 44 years ago. If you were not alive, then your parents were. Our problems have not evaporated. One of the reasons I named this blog Lawfully Wedded Wife is because I’m aware of the fact that in years past, I would not have been allowed to be Jason’s wife lawfully. Living in Virginia, we would have likely been arrested and imprisoned for sharing a home like we do now. If that doesn’t make you stop and think, then I don’t know what will.
I’m so grateful that I’m blessed with a companion for life who loves me no matter what, and I sometimes wish we didn’t have to imagine a world in which people believed that our union was wrong. I don’t think either of us could have anticipated how much we would learn and grow from being married to each other, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not the stares, not the questions, not the eyebrow raises…none of it. All of it has helped me to become a better person. One day we will teach our children about accepting other people for who/what they are, taking every opportunity they can to learn about other people and cultures, and most importantly how to have an unconditionally loving heart.
You didn’t think I would let this post end without having some food, did you?! You know me better than that. Just like in other places in life, some of the most beautiful experiences in food are the ones that combine different attributes and tastes together in one place.
Loving Bread (recipe from Chocolate Marbled Bread on Joy of Baking)
(Can you tell that I’m falling in love with photography? So much loving going on…)
I didn’t know the Lovings personally, and sadly they are no longer with us. But I still want to thank them for their strength, and I feel as though I knew them. Either way, I certainly love them.
In loving memory of Richard Loving (October 29, 1933 – June 29, 1975) and Mildred Loving (July 22, 1939 – May 2, 2008)
Richard and Mildred’s children (Source)
“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.”
-Mildred Loving, 2007