Loving v. Virginia: 40 Years Later

Forty years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued it’s decision in what may well have been the most ironically named lawsuit in history.

The Plaintiffs were Richard and Mildred Loving. A couple who had been married in the District of Columbia in June 1958. And that’s where the trouble started. You see, Richard was white and Mildred was black. And in Virginia in 1958, that just wasn’t right. In fact, they had deliberately gone to D.C. to get married and then returned to their home in Virginia. The only problem is that interracial marriages were illegal in Virginia in 1958, and evading the ban was a criminal offense that could lead to jail time. And that’s what happened to the Lovings.

Not surprisingly, the state courts of Virginia upheld the conviction. Which left it to the United States Supreme Court to decide whether Virginia’s “public policy” ban on interracial marriages violated the 14th Amendment.

Fortunately, they reached the right conclusion:

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.

Okay, so here’s the question. Take the above quote, heck take the entire Loving v. Virginia opinion, and substitute race for gender and tell me why state laws against homosexuals being allowed to marry should be considered valid.

Yea, I didn’t think you could.

H/T to fellow Virginian Vivian Page for reminding me of the anniversary of this decision.

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  • http://www.federalrepublic.net Adam

    Unfortunately, the 14th amendment has been misinterpreted over time. IMO, with the 14th, just because you have legally sanctioned institutions (that in their right, discriminate inherently based on sex) does not mean that somehow you must apply that same discriminatory, state-sanctioned institution to gays. In this case, traditional marriage, as it applies between one man and one woman.

  • http://www.novatownhall.com/blog Jack

    The first sentence you quote says, “Marriage is… fundamental to our very existence and survival.” So how is same-sex marriage fundamental to our existence and survival?

  • Gunnar

    Great point Jack. Not only that, but the whole logical method of the original post is seriously flawed. For example, take the whole opinion, and substitute the word “rock” for race, and tell me why state laws against marriages to rocks should be considered valid. I want to marry a rock, and no one has the right to stop me.

  • tarran

    Gunnar, you have a perfect right to marry a rock if you really want to.

    I personally am opposed to gay marriage, so I won’t participate in one. But if the lesbian couple down the street want to call themselves a married couple, it’s no skin off my nose. What they do or call themselves is none of my business.

  • Gunnar

    >> What they do or call themselves is none of my business.

    Yes, but then it’s also none of your business that some other people say they are not married. The meaning of words is a matter of general consensus, and so let democracy decide.

  • tarran

    OK, So it’ snone of my business if they say they are married, while it is your business.

    Why? Do you have some god-like powers? Should I be worshipping something with your image graven on it? :)

  • Gunnar

    >> OK, So it’ snone of my business if they say they are married, while it is your business.

    No, you’re missing the point. You’re right that it’s none of anyone’s business if the gay couple consider themselves “married”. But, the converse is ALSO true. It’s none of the anyone’s business that some other people consider them NOT married. You can’t force people to change their definition of a word.

    The real goal of people seeking gay marriage is a desire for approval and legitimacy from the masses. But you can’t legislate approval.

  • tarran

    Gunnar sweetie,

    I think the big driver for gay marriage is that gay families want the government to stop discriminating against them. Certainly there are some poor souls people who want legal sanction because they pathetically confuse it with “approval of the masses”, but for the most part it is a discrimination issue.

    On the other hand, I look at Virgina’s hysterically funny attempt to mandate that people discriminate against families who aren’t headed by heterosexual couples, and the fervent support that amendment received tells me that the bulk of the opponents of gay marriage are not interested in letting people be, but are in fact more interested in forcing people who don’t want to discriminate against gay families to discriminate against gay families or face legal sanction.

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