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.